Record Numbers Crossing the Channel This Summer

BarfleurDespite tourist numbers from the UK to France expected to be down this year, including those arriving in Normandy, business has been booming on cross channel transport.

Brittany Ferries has reported that passenger numbers hit a new peak this summer and Eurotunnel said that it saw record traffic in the middle of August.

By the end of this month Brittany Ferries said it will have experienced the best summer for three years with passenger carryings to and from the UK during July and August reaching 730,000, up by 7% on last year.

The firm, which has crossing from Ouistreham and Cherbourg in Normandy, this growth has been across all routes and reflects the increase in popularity of ferries generally as a more comfortable and better value proposition than flying.

‘After a few tough years this return to growth is, of course, most welcome. Clearly there are external factors, such as the good summer weather and the fact that there are no Olympic Games this year, which have stimulated the market,’ said Mike Bevens, group commercial director for Brittany Ferries.

‘But at the same time the enormous effort we have made to enhance our service by, for example, providing free Wi-Fi on all ships, has borne fruit. We have also invested considerably in our website to make it easier for customers to see the price of each crossing and therefore make an informed choice,’ he explained.

‘Our huge range of ferry inclusive self drive holidays has also sold extremely well this year and we have attracted more holiday makers who have never travelled on a ferry before. This is perhaps an indication of the growing appreciation that we provide a great value and hassle free travel experience, particularly when it comes to families,’ he added.

Eurotunnel said it saw record traffic on the middle weekend of August. On Saturday 17 August, some 15,982 vehicles including 168 coaches travelled in both directions between Folkestone, in Kent, and Coquelles, in the Nord Pas-de-Calais, breaking the existing record for the heaviest traffic ever seen in one day since Le Shuttle opened for commercial service in 1994.

To cope with this unprecedented volume of traffic, 151 Shuttle departures were organised, sometimes at a rate of up to one every 12 minutes. The firm said that thanks to the efficiency of the French and British border administration, passengers passed rapidly through the frontier controls, and were able to board in plenty of time.

‘This is the third time this year that the 15,000 vehicle ceiling has been broken, a clear sign that customers value Le Shuttle’s 35 minute journey across the channel and that our British customers have an ever increasing desire for travel,’ said Jacques Gounon, chairman and chief executive of Groupe Eurotunnel.

‘This considerable volume of cross channel traffic, a first in the history of our company, was achieved through the long term collaboration established with the staff at the border and frontier security control points,’ he added.

About Ray Clancy

Ray Clancy has 20 years experience in journalism including contributing articles to print and on-line publications such as, Property World Middle East and websites for estate agents. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday.

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