Buoyant cruise sector sees port passenger number soar past 100k 

More than 100,000 passengers travelled through Lerwick port in the first half of the year – a 24 per cent increase on the same period in 2022.

Lerwick Port Authority’s half-yearly report says traffic has made a “very positive” impact with some sectors surpassing pre pandemic levels.

The bumper cruise season has helped contribute to a significant rise in passengers, with a total of 108,732 recorded in the January-June period.

The figures predate some of the busiest periods of the year so far, such as the tall ships races in July, and some of the arrival of some of the largest cruise ships.

Overall, 2,432 vessel arrivals in the six month period – an 11 per cent increase on the same period last year.

The arrivals include increases of 15% in fishing vessels and 6% in oil-related shipping.

The overall tonnage of vessels at 5,992,043 gross tonnes, was also up 0.6% on last year.

Some of the tonnage includes the arrival of Viking windfarm components, which compared with the delivery of the Ninian Northern Jacket for decommissioning in the same period.

Cargo tonnage fell by three percent to 424,195 tonnes overall and down seven per cent for roll-on/roll-off cargo.

The reduction is down to the high figures from last year when large amounts of aggregates were shipped in during the construction of the Viking windfarm.

There were 123,180 boxes of whitefish landed at Lerwick in the first half, a one per cent increase compared to the same period in 2022.

The LPA said landings remain steady, with prices holding, while pelagic landings continue to be strong.

LPA chief executive Calum Grains said: “The encouraging first- half figures continued the recovery to pre-covid levels, reflecting positive contributions made by recent energy sector project activity.

“Growth in Shetland’s cruise industry means the prospect of a record season, and strong visitor numbers supporting the marine tourism sector.

Captain Grains said significant efforts had been focussed on port preparations for the return of the tall ships in July.

“The period also saw positive engagements with developers on the potential for future marine support for windfarm projects,” he added.


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