Transport / Advance NorthLink bookings up by one third

Serco NorthLink passenger vessel MV Hrossey at Holmsgarth. Photo: Lerwick Port Authority.

NORTHLINK bookings for the rest of the year are around one third up compared to the same point in 2022 – with a suggestion made that Shetland featuring in a new David Attenborough TV series could ramp up demand even further.

Forward booking figures were presented to a meeting of the Shetland external transport forum on Wednesday.

Serco NorthLink managing director Stuart Garrett said as of the end of February more than 29,000 advance bookings had been made on the Northern Isles ferry service.

This is 33 per cent increase compared to the same point last year.

The boats are looking increasingly busy around the time of the Tall Ships event in Lerwick at the end of July, with folk reminded to book early.

Forum chair Councillor Moraig Lyall asked if there were any trends behind the increase in forward bookings, of which around two thirds have been made by visitors.


NorthLink’s commercial director Jim Dow said people are “really keen” to travel to Shetland and Orkney.

He said the ferry operator is also pleasantly surprised at the recovery on the routes after the Covid restrictions on travel.

“We’re finding a lot of foreign visitors very keen to travel,” Dow added. “I think part of that may well be the exchange rate, where it’s a good time for many of them to make the trip up.”

Meanwhile Lyall referenced the impending David Attenborough wildlife series Wild Isles, which will feature clips of Shetland, and suggested it could further increase tourism.

“There’s likely to be yet another uptick in the demand for travel to Shetland, both by air and by sea,” she said.

“It would be interesting to keep an eye on how that does impact things on the next wee while.”

The isles have already seen a positive impact when it comes to tourism off the back of the BBC crime drama Shetland.

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