Positive news from the Isle of Man’s visitor economy has been welcomed by the Steam Packet Company.

The Visitor Economy Strategic Group, at its latest meeting, reported growth in visitor numbers, accommodation occupancy and use of leisure facilities and attractions in the Island.

This upward trend is supported by the Steam Packet Company’s own figures, which show passenger numbers increased over the summer, forward bookings for autumn are up and there was strong growth in visitors to special events, including the TT.

The Visitor Economy Strategic Group is made up of representatives from a cross-section of tourism, hospitality and transport providers, including the Steam Packet Company. At its most recent monthly meeting, the Group reported a 10% increase in visitors staying in paid accommodation over the first six months of the year, with the current occupancy levels up 5% compared with the same time last year. 

In addition, leisure activity and attractions have experienced increased numbers, such as the 4% increase in people using the Island’s heritage railways.

The Steam Packet Company’s figures show passenger numbers were up 4,482 in July and 4,282 up in August compared with 2013. During the TT, the number of motorcycles brought to the Island was up 7.6%, while the 2014 Festival of Motorcycling saw an 11.2% increase in bikes carried, and numbers were up around 5% for the International Southern 100 Road Races, which the Steam Packet Company has been title sponsor of for 15 years.

The Island’s Visitor Economy Strategy has targeted marketing and promotion towards the high-value niche market, and the Steam Packet Company’s independent UK postcode analysis shows there has indeed been a rise in numbers of visitors from more ‘affluent’ areas.

Additionally, the joint work of government and the industry to promote ‘off-season’ visits is producing results and the Steam Packet Company can confirm forward bookings for autumn are currently up 4% on the 2013 numbers.

The Steam Packet Company also plays a key role in facilitating the growth in group visits and it is welcome news that coach bookings were up 7% by the end of August compared with the same time in 2013.

Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘As the Department of Economic Development has noted, the number of tourists has grown by more than 10% over the past three years. It is very positive to see this upward trend appears to be continuing, as reflected in our own passenger figures.

‘The visitor economy attracts more than £100 million of local spend in the Isle of Man every year, according to DED figures, so it is vital for the industry and government to work together to attract more tourists and increase visitor numbers outside the summer high season and special event periods.

‘The Steam Packet Company has actively supported the aims of the Visitor Economy Strategic Group, such as working closely with coach groups. We are investing heavily to boost traffic again in 2015 with 48 additional Liverpool sailings, a new mezzanine deck for Manannan to assist growth for the TT and Festival of Motorcycling and a £500,000 marketing campaign to promote the Isle of Man in the UK and Ireland.’