First quarter increase in passenger traffic points to busy year.

With three more cruise ships visiting Lerwick Harbour this week, the port’s summer surge in passenger traffic is building on an already busy start to the year.

The latest statistics, issued today, show that passenger numbers rose 12.85% between January to March this year, compared to the same quarter in 2010, with 19,535 using the port. There were increases in each of the three months, and shorter-than-usual interruption to scheduled services between Lerwick and Aberdeen and Orkney for biennial survey of ferries in dry dock.

Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, said: “The outlook is positive, not least on the passenger front - the port is in line for a record-breaking cruise season between May and September, and another boost to passenger traffic from hosting the Tall Ships Races between 21-24 July. We expect to see visits during the year by large construction vessels supporting offshore projects, as well as increased activity in cargo handled.”

While oil-related vessel arrivals were up 11% at 70 during the first quarter and tonnage by 27.5% at 232,778 gross tonnes, total arrivals were down 3.8% at 1,108, due mainly to fewer small craft, such as work boats and tugs. The overall tonnage was up 12.4% at 2.0 million tonnes, reflecting use of the port by larger vessels.

Oil-related cargo was unchanged, while the total tonnage handled reduced 6% to 178,829 tonnes, with the export of general cargo and frozen fish down, along with imports of winter road salt.

Total fish landings at 21,844 tonnes were valued at £20.9 million, down 27% on volume and 3% on value. White fish, at 2,335 tonnes valued at £4.0 million, was down 8.25% on volume and up 4.5% on value, with the price per tonne increased by 13.7% to average £1,720 per tonne. In the pelagic sector, winter mackerel landings reduced in volume and held steady on value, with quota remaining to be taken in the autumn.

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