The first summer holiday back to pre-pandemic traffic volumes, with today’s EU border processes, is being hailed as a success at the Port of Dover.
During the summer holidays, the Port of Dover processed over 2 million passengers, 483,000 cars, 9,000 coaches and 237,000 freight vehicles. This equates to 2390 miles of outbound traffic processed during the 6-week period, a distance that stretches from Dover, to beyond Cairo, Egypt. These volumes once again confirm Dover’s position as Britain’s premier trade and travel gateway to Europe, as holidaymakers continue to choose the country’s shortest sea crossing to France, enjoying the choice of three operators and the unrivalled flexibility of 130 daily ferry crossings. Despite the large-scale return to pre-pandemic tourist volumes, the average processing time at the border was 41 minutes during the peak hours (6am-2pm) and 23 minutes overall.
Extensive planning conducted alongside operational partners had factored in up to 2.5 hours of waiting time before border controls in the Port at the very busiest times, but this was only ever reached during one single hour on Saturday 29th July, the busiest day at the Port since before the pandemic. On this day, over 800 cars arrived at the Port per hour during peak hours, with 42,415 outbound passengers, 10,220 cars, 195 coaches and 2,454 freight vehicles passing outbound through the Port in total.
Commenting on the success of the summer getaway at Dover, Port Chief Executive, Doug Bannister, said:
“The Port community is immensely proud of the huge planning that was undertaken to ensure a smooth transit for our passengers this summer, in the wake of the return to pre-pandemic numbers and under today’s border process regime. Dover’s plan for summer, delivered in collaboration with a wide range of operational partners, ultimately paid off to deliver a fantastic summer season, which will provide confidence for the nation that Dover remains the premier trade and travel gateway.”
“It’s evident that public trust in ferry travel remains high. The time you arrive in Dover ahead of your ferry is comparable to arriving at the airport before your flight. However, once you clear all border checks within Dover, you can subsequently enjoy the comfortable crossing to France and simply drive off the ferry and to your onward destination at your arrival port – as well as skipping baggage reclaim queues.
Also, the flexibility we offer here is second to none. If you miss your flight, you may be able to get another one at an additional cost and probably at a much later time – perhaps flying another day. If you unfortunately miss your ferry sailing, you will be accommodated on the next available crossing (which is usually within an hour) at no extra cost.”
Adding to these remarks, Emma Ward, Chief Operations Officer at the Port of Dover, said:
“The scale of the planning required to deliver a successful summer here at the Port of Dover in 2023 was immense, but the substantial work undertaken with our operational partners came to fruition. We wish to thank our ferry operators, DFDS, Irish Ferries and P&O Ferries, National Highways, Kent Police and all of the Kent Resilience partnership, who supported us with traffic management. I would also like to pay a special tribute to our colleagues at Police aux Frontières for their efforts in ensuring that they fully resourced all of the additional facilities we had provided at the border.
Among many other measures, operational planning included the sharing of projected traffic arrivals for every hour of every day to assist with resource planning and traffic management and ensuring Port of Dover police resource at junctions throughout the town to keep the traffic flowing well and the town clear. An additional 2 coach processing positions were also installed, giving a capacity of 7 coach processing positions (a 130% increase); providing Police aux Frontières with a maximum processing capacity of 9 tourist lanes, 7 coach lanes and 2 freight lanes at peak times. We also shared live travel information with our passengers hour-by-hour on our peak days, so they always knew what to expect and how to plan for their journey.
Continuing, Doug Bannister added:
“Periods of increased dwell time were experienced during the busiest of days, which included some congestion surrounding the Port, both of which will serve as key focus areas for future planning. I would like to thank the Dover and wider Kent community for their patience during the very busiest of times, and of course, thank our passengers for their continued support of our services. We are committed to continually improving our performance to reduce the impact on our community and deliver the excellent customer service that is appropriate to being Britain’s premier port.”
Karen Baurdoux, Channel Passenger Director at DFDS, said:
“We are delighted to have welcomed repeat and new customers onboard our Dover-Dunkerque and Dover-Calais routes over the summer. Our colleagues ashore and onboard have worked incredibly hard to help our customers get away on their holidays. We are grateful for the ongoing good collaboration with our partners in the ports and look forward to continuing to work together on the learnings we have had from the summer.”
Louisa Bell, Passenger Managing Director at P&O Ferries, said:
“We are proud to have played an integral role in facilitating this summer’s record passenger numbers and freight volume as the largest operator on the Dover-Calais route. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers across this route for years to come – supported by our new hybrid fusion-class ships P&O Pioneer and P&O Liberte.”
Nora Costello, Consumer Sales & Marketing Director at Irish Ferries, said:
“We are delighted so many passengers this summer have benefited from Irish Ferries’ great value fares and enjoyed excellent service, getting their trip to France off to a great start.”
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Notes to Editors
The Port of Dover’s collective plan for the summer holidays delivered in collaboration with operational partners included:
- Creation of an additional 2 coach processing positions and re-activation of two additional booths created for summer 2022, to provide Police aux Frontières with a maximum processing capacity of 9 tourist lanes, 7 coach lanes and 2 freight lanes at peak times (with the flexibility to revert some to freight processing when tourist demand reduces).
- Sharing of hour-by-hour projections for every day of the summer getaway with operational partners to plan their resources and processes and improve flow rates for all traffic types, including cars, coaches and HGVs.
- Working closely with coach customers and ferry operators to spread travel demand during peak times.
- Reinstating the designated Coach Processing Facility on the approach to the ferry terminal to conduct the Advanced Passenger Information (API) checks and smooth movements to the Port following its success at half term.
- Leveraging the Port’s team of Passenger Champions who are located ahead of border controls and on hand to assist passengers during peak periods.
- All junctions through the town resourced to keep the traffic flowing well and the town clear.
- Providing additional facilities, including pet welfare, ahead of border controls, which further supplement the existing retail and amenities available after check-in within the Passenger Services Building.
- PAF agreement to all resource requirements and ferry operators recruited to install resource required for the Summer period.
- Extensive communications shared with passengers, including traffic projections and travel guidance shared on our website and periodic infographics and live hourly waiting times shared on social media.
About Port of Dover
The Port of Dover is the busiest international ferry port in the UK, with two million cars and 11 million passengers passing through the Port every year. Dover also processes 2.4 million trucks per year, more than all other UK ports. In total, the Port of Dover deals with £144bn of trade in goods each year, and 33% of the UK’s trade with the EU, supporting businesses across the nation.
With a cargo business handling fresh produce, containers, project cargo, general cargo, grain and Ro-Ro traffic operating from a state-of-the-art terminal next to the world’s busiest shipping lane and on the quickest sea route to Europe, Dover is building for the future.
In addition, Dover is the UK’s second busiest cruise port, welcoming more than 25 cruise lines and 200,000 guests each year. The Port also has a marina and property business primed to benefit from a new waterfront.
The Port of Dover holds ambitious net zero targets, placing it at the vanguard of decarbonisation within the UK ports industry. More information on the targets can be found here. The Port’s focus on sustainability is driving it forward, enabling the team to keep the Port of Dover at the heart of international trade and tourism, and contributing value as a key gateway, employer, business and community partner.