Guernsey Press

Passenger numbers are down for Sark Shipping

Sark Shipping passenger numbers are down, with fewer cruise ship excursions and staycationers.

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Sark Shipping vessel in St Peter Port Harbour. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 33104998)

There were just over 98,000 passenger legs in the 2022/2023 financial year, compared with 103,000 in the five-year average.

‘Aside from the generally inclement weather, the lower than average volumes were a result of changes in the demand across some of the markets,’ said the company in its annual report to Chief Pleas.

‘Cruise ship passenger excursions were significantly down on pre-pandemic volumes. Group day trippers booked by tour operators have also not recovered to pre-pandemic levels.’

There were high numbers of staycationers during the pandemic, but there have started to drop, as is shown by the company’s period returns.

But there was some good news for the company.

Passenger numbers from October through to March were above the winter average and revenues were positive.

The Sark Venture and Sark Viking both successfully completed five-year anniversary surveys.

The past year also brought some challenges.

In April, Corsaire de Sercq collided with the end of Maseline harbour and needed to be taken out of service, not returning until the first week of July.

Trident needed to be chartered when there was high demand.

There was also unsettled weather in the early summer, with eight days of cancelled sailings.

‘Weather conditions in July and August did not improve significantly,’ the report stated.

‘We also had 10 days of the Guernsey Island Games at the start of July, which had a significant impact on the volume for the period [down some 2,800 passenger legs in comparison to the average for the period in previous years].

July’s sheep racing, one of the major events in the Sark calendar, was also impacted by weather and although the company operated services as advertised, there were more than 200 ‘no shows’ from passengers.

In August the numbers started to improve, and in September volumes were better than 2022 and 2019.

Overall the general operating costs were in line with the budget, however chartering the Trident cost £28,000.

The report flags that a future challenge was finding suitably-qualified crew, but currently the company has a full crew complement.