NorthLink has opened its bookings for March-September with fares frozen for the next six months.
The operator confirmed the news today (Wednesday) amid growing frustration that the delays were holding back tourism and making it difficult for Shetland people to plan ahead.
It followed an announcement from Transport Scotland on Sunday, confirming fares would be frozen for a further six months.
Jim Dow, Serco’s Commercial Director for NorthLink Ferries, said: “We are pleased to be able to open our booking system up to September 2023, allowing people to book travel both to and from Shetland and Orkney.
“Last year’s passenger numbers show how popular the Northern Isles are with visitors, and we are committed to supporting the tourism sector while continuing to provide the lifeline service for islanders.”
The move has been welcomed by the tourism industry.
Steve Mathieson, VisitScotland Development Manager for Shetland, said: “The freeze on fares until September is good news for visitors and local travellers alike, for whom the ferry is such an essential service. It will be particularly welcomed by the businesses and communities in Shetland who benefit from tourism.”
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: “The Scottish government is acutely aware of the particular challenges faced by our island communities, where the ongoing cost of living impacts are arguably more challenging than in any other part of the country. Ministers are also mindful of the disruption on the ferry network in recent times – particularly in relation to the Clyde and Hebrides network.
“This fares freeze is the right thing for our island communities and I hope it will go some way to encouraging tourism this summer as island businesses continue to recover from the pandemic.
“We will consider fares policy in the longer term as part of both the Island Connectivity Plan and our wider ‘fair fares’ review, to ensure that we continue to address the needs of Scotland’s islands.”
Bookings can be made at https://www.northlinkferries.co.uk/