The British ferry industry enjoyed a good year during 2013, with passenger numbers increasing by 2.6 per cent overall to 38 million; car traffic grew by 1.1 per cent to 8.37 million vehicles and coachnumbers went up by 4.1 per cent overall to 158,470.

The figures have been released by Discover Ferries, the body set up last year after the Passenger Shipping Association disappeared. It includes 12 operators: Brittany Ferries, CalMac, Condor Ferries, DFDS Seaways, Irish Ferries, Isle of Man Steam Packet, MyFerryLink, NorthLink, P&O Ferries, Red Funnel, Stena Line and Wightlink, with Bill Gibbons, for many years director of the PSA, at the helm.

Last year’s coach figures were the best since 2008, with routes via the English Channel and North Sea recording passenger growth of 5.8 per cent to 17.66 million, while on the short-sea Continent routes from Dover to Calais and Dunkirk, passenger numbers went up by 6.8 per cent to 12.7 million.

The longer Western Channel routes, operated by Brittany Ferries, DFDS and Condor Ferries, went up 4.2 per cent to 2.8 million and North Sea routes by DFDS, P&O Ferries and Stena Line grew numbers by 1.7 per cent to 2.13million.

‘These overall passenger, car and coach growth figures across the industry are very encouraging, and we have certainly bounced back from a challenging year in 2012, when the Olympic Games and rotten summer weather affected holiday bookings,’ said director Bill Gibbons.