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Interferry / Shippax study reveals ferry industry’s huge economic impact

A study commissioned by trade association Interferry with the help of statistics and data from Shippax, has revealed startling statistics on the far-reaching extent of the global ferry industry’s value to the world economy.
Research into the latest pre-Covid full-year figures found that, in 2019, ferries carried 4.27 billion passengers – on a par with aviation – and 373 million vehicles across a worldwide fleet of 15,400 vessels. Among other findings, the industry provided 1.1 million jobs, contributed $60 billion to the world GDP and represented approximately 20% of shipping’s economic value to the European Union.

The study was carried out by UK-based consultancy Oxford Economics, a world leader in economic impact assessment. It quantified three core channels through which the ferry industry drives economic activity and employment – direct support generated by the industry, indirect support generated within its supply chain, and induced support from ferry and supply-side personnel spending their pay on goods and services. Data was collected from a range of third-party sources and among Interferry’s membership of 260 operators and suppliers in 40 countries.

Interferry CEO Mike Corrigan comments: ‘We already knew that the ferry segment punches well above its weight – it comprises only 3-5% of the total shipping industry – but the scale of the findings surprised even seasoned insiders.

‘Now perhaps we’ll get the political consideration that all too often is more focused on airlines, rail operators and road transport. It’s long overdue for governments and the general public to appreciate the huge part that ferries play in passenger and freight transport – and this study confirms our sector’s vital importance in the process.’

Corrigan announced the findings last week at Interferry’s 45th annual conference in Santander, Spain, hosted by Brittany Ferries. At the event – themed The Future is Ferries – more than 300 participants debated positive solutions and prospects in response to challenges such as Covid and climate change.

In a keynote address, research by London-based L.E.K Consulting into the post-pandemic outlook for Europe’s passenger ferry market was reviewed by Becrom Basu, a partner in the company’s transport and logistics practice. He noted that successful vaccination roll-outs had given governments the confidence to gradually ease stringent travel restrictions. This in turn was releasing pent-up demand that pointed to a significant uplift in European travel towards 2019 levels by next year.

Stressing that the ferry market looked best placed to capture this potential, he added: ‘Online searches for ferries have largely returned to pre-Covid levels, while searches for flights remain significantly lower. Ferries ranked highly as a safe form of travel. Sentiment towards them has improved while aviation has suffered.

‘The pandemic has created a much more positive view of ferries and a large proportion of previous non-users are likely to consider this option for their next trip. Ferries have emerged as a clear winner in the battle of the modes.’

Oct 14 2021

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