46.6 million ferry tickets sold in 2019 but Brexit held back the market

25 Feb 2020

Ferry market down in 2019

In 2019, across the three main sectors of the ferry market – UK-Continent, UK-Ireland and Domestic – 46.6 million passenger tickets were sold and 8.7 million cars and over 140,000 coaches were transported. The ferry market saw passenger volumes decline in 2019 by 2.4%, with the Continental routes (-6.6%) bearing the brunt of the downturn.

As Brexit hits the Continental Ferry Sector

Part of this decline reflects negative Brexit effects. Data from the Annual UK Ferry Market Survey, which interviewed over 9,000 people,  shows that 15% of people who did not travel on a ferry or by the Tunnel in the last year said they were deterred from doing so by Brexit, and 14% of those that did continue to travel changed their behaviour because of Brexit, most reducing the number of trips taken, with Continental ferry traffic the most negatively affected sector of the market.

These results come from two reports published by IRN Research:

  • Statistical Overview of the UK Passenger Ferry Market. This provides a statistical overview of the UK Passenger Ferry Market over 2011 to 2019, based on returns from almost all UK passenger ferry operators. Although the market is made up of three market sectors – UK Continent, UK Ireland and Domestic – comparisons are also made with Eurotunnel and Eurostar. In addition, information is also detailed at a subsector level where: UK – Continent routes are divided into North Sea, Short Sea and Western Channel Sectors; UK – Ireland routes are divided into Northern Ireland, Central Corridor and Southern Corridor; and Domestic routes are divided into Channel Islands, Isle of Wight, Isle of Man, Scotland and the London River Services.
  • Annual Ferry Survey. The annual ferry survey is organised in association with Discover Ferries and its ferry operator members. The members provide web links and send emails to invite their prospects and clients to complete the online ferry survey. An incentive of an entry into a prize draw for free ferry trips is offered. This covers individuals travelling on the three main ferry sectors and the Tunnel. This year’s survey attracted 9,157 responses from individuals, of which 8,012 had travelled by ferry or through the Tunnel in the last 12 months, with 7,660 of these able to identify the last trip they had taken and, therefore, fulfil most of the questions in the survey.

These reports are available directly from IRN Research

 Statistical Overview of the UK Passenger Ferry Market (25pp), priced at £200. UK sterling price is plus VAT, so the total price is £240.

 Annual Ferry Survey (87pp), priced at £350. UK sterling price is plus VAT, so the total price is £420.


Purchase the Reports

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Ferrystat Seasonal and Forecast Data

Freighstat Seasonal and Forecast Data



IRN Team

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