SEA travel links will not improve in the long term ‘without a reconfiguration of Condor’s fleet’, a member of Economic Development has said, with the committee continuing to negotiate with the operator.
The number of people travelling to Guernsey by sea improved by 18.2% in the final quarter of last year compared with the same period in 2015.
However, sea travel fell by 16.3% (17,700 passengers) for 2016 as a whole and Deputy Jennifer Merrett said the 2014 passenger figures set a better benchmark to aspire to.
‘2016 ended on a really positive note and it seems like confidence is coming back, but 2015 was a bad year and, compared to 2014, when sea travel peaked, there is still quite a long way to go,’ she said. ‘Compared to the end of 2014 we have had around 30,000 less people travelling by sea and we are keen to address that. Realistically, that cannot happen without a re-configuration of the [Condor’s] fleet.’
Last August, Economic Development vice-president Jan Kuttelwascher said the committee wanted to see a third ferry on the northern route, serving Weymouth, Poole and Portsmouth.
Deputy Merrett said talks were ongoing with Condor but the committee should be able to report back to the States by the end of March.
‘At the moment we are negotiating with Condor and also with Senator Farnham in Jersey,’ she said. ‘We have made really clear our expectations and that we would like to see more resilience and reliability on the northern route.’
Day visitors to the island have halved since 2011 and Deputy Merrett said the value of this ‘core market’ should not be underestimated.