Number of cars carried by ferry operators rises 2 per cent to nearly 9 million in 2016

The number of cars taken on UK and Irish ferries rose by 2 per cent last year according to industry body Discover Ferries

THE number of cars taken on UK and Irish ferries rose by 2 per cent last year, new figures show.

Industry body Discover Ferries said growth was driven by a 5 per cent increase in demand for domestic trips, with Western Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Isle of Wight markets performing strongly.

Some 8.8 million cars were carried by ferry operators in the UK and Ireland in 2016, up from 8.6 million the previous year.

This represents an increase of almost half a million cars since 2012.

Discover Ferries director Bill Gibbons said: "The sustained growth in car carryings is particularly good news for the sector as we see more people recognise the advantages of simply hopping into their own car and enjoying the flexibility, value and freedom of a break by sea rather than the pressure of travelling through an airport.

"Over the past decade our ferry members and partners have constantly innovated and invested to ensure travel by sea is a superb experience and it's exciting to see the results of that work coming through in our 2016 results."

Last week Stena Line posted a record year for freight traffic on its Belfast Harbour routes in 2016, carrying more than 500,000 units through Belfast Harbour.

Stena operates three freight services from Belfast Harbour providing up to 14 daily crossings between Cairnryan, Liverpool (Birkenhead) and Heysham.

In 2016 it had record car and passenger volumes with almost 1.5 million passengers travelling with, a growth of 7 per cent on the previous year.

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