Ferry industry worth $60 billion to world GDP, says Interferry study

Ferry industry worth $60 billion to world GDP, says Interferry study


The results of the study were presented at Interferry’s 45th annual conference by CEO Mike Corrigan

Trade association Interferry has presented the results of a study into how valuable the global ferry industry is to the world economy at its 45th annual conference, which was conducted by UK-based consultancy Oxford Economics. 

Research into found that a worldwide fleet of 15,400 ferries carried 4.27 billion passengers and 373 million vehicles in 2019. The industry contributed $60 billion to the world’s GDP and provided 1.1 million jobs. 

During the study, Oxford Economics identified three core channels through which the ferry industry drives economic activity and employment: direct support generated by the industry, indirect support generated within its supply chain, and induced support from ferry and supply-side personnel spending their wages on goods and services. Data was collected from a range of third-party sources and from among Interferry’s membership of 260 operators and suppliers in 40 countries.  

“We already knew that the ferry segment punches well above its weight – it comprises only three to five per cent of the total shipping industry – but the scale of the findings surprised even seasoned insiders,” said Mike Corrigan, CEO of Interferry. “Now perhaps we’ll get the political consideration that all too often is more focused on airlines, rail operators and road transport. It’s long overdue for governments and the general public to appreciate the huge part that ferries play in passenger and freight transport – and this study confirms our sector’s vital importance in the process.” 

Corrigan shared the findings at Interferry’s conference in Santander, Spain, which was hosted by Brittany Ferries. At the event, which was held from 2-6 October 2021, more than 300 participants debated solutions and industry prospects in response to challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change. 

In a separate keynote address, research by L.E.K. Consulting into the post-pandemic outlook for the European passenger ferry market was reviewed by Becrom Basu, a partner in the company’s transport and logistics practice. 

“Online searches for ferries have largely returned to pre-Covid levels, while searches for flights remain significantly lower,” said Basu. “Ferries ranked highly as a safe form of travel. Sentiment towards them has improved while aviation has suffered. The pandemic has created a much more positive view of ferries and a large proportion of previous non-users are likely to consider this option for their next trip. Ferries have emerged as a clear winner in the battle of the modes.” 

Read more about highlights from Interferry’s 45th annual conference in CFR's report from Santander.

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Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
13 October 2021

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