Northern Isles ferry operator Serco NorthLink Ferries is predicting its busiest ever holiday season. The company has just completed training for its 31 seasonal Passenger Service Assistants who have joined the team ahead of the summer surge.
Bookings in 2019 have already been extremely strong, fuelled especially by interest in the Shetland TV crime series, the trend in mindfulness, and staycation demand due to Brexit uncertainty. Customer feedback also indicates that the islands’ combination of wildlife, landscapes and heritage remain important in attracting visitors from throughout the UK and abroad.
Stuart Garrett, Serco’s managing director for NorthLink Ferries, said: “Summer time in Orkney and Shetland is a unique experience that really does have to be seen to be believed. Our vessels are going through their annual upgrade offering something new for even returning passengers. Our staff, and everyone involved in hospitality in the islands, are ready to go for another outstanding summer.”
The tourism season gets fully underway even before the Scottish school holidays, with many tourists drawn to the ‘simmer dim’ on 21 June, when there will be nearly 19 hours of daylight. The wide range of outdoor, music and culture festivals across Orkney and Shetland also got underway in May, marking the start of a very busy five months for the ferries.
Chris Taylor, VisitScotland regional leadership Director, said: “Both Orkney and Shetland are a huge draw for visitors, with their stunning landscapes, rich history and heritage, inspiring culture and warmth of the people. These combine to make the islands a real must-visit, must-return destination for the discerning traveller looking for an adventure in Scotland.
“Testament to their popularity is the news just this week that Shetland has been included in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 ‘Best in Europe’ list – the only UK destination on the list – which is a fantastic accolade.
“Scotland’s appearances in TV in shows like ‘Shetland’ have the potential to reach huge global audiences and play an influential role in where visitors choose to travel. We know from research that one in five visitors are inspired to visit after seeing the country on-screen. Almost a third of visitors (29%) of visitors to Orkney were inspired to visit by a TV programme, so the opportunities for the tourism industry are immense.”
Last year, NorthLink ferried around 137,000 passengers to the Northern Isles during June, July and August, from a total of 323,000.
For more information on NorthLink Ferries visit www.northlinkferries.co.uk/