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Port of Dover unveils buoyant 2023 results as it looks to invest heavily in the future

02/07/24

  • 1.6 million tourist vehicles (up from 1.3 million in 2022)
  • Passenger numbers grew by 35% to 8.9m
  • An 8% increase in freight vehicles (up to 2.2 million)
  • Revenue increased to £75.5m (£60.1m in 2022)

The Port of Dover, the UK’s busiest international ferry port, has published its Annual Report & Accounts 2023 signifying a strong return towards pre-pandemic numbers across the business.

The report demonstrates an increase in passenger numbers of 35% to 8.9 million and a rise of 26% to 1.6 million tourist vehicles from 2022’s figures, under post-Brexit border controls.

Since the midst of the pandemic in 2021, this represents an increase in tourist vehicles for the two-year period to 2023 from 0.3 million up to 1.6 million and passenger numbers up from 3.1million to 8.8 million respectively.

Freight volumes grew by 8% in 2023 to 2.2 million vehicles, defying wider UK and EU economic conditions. This number of lorries, lined up back-to-back, would have circled the globe.

The ongoing role of the port as a vital gateway to Europe for people and goods and the need to make major adaptations to critical national infrastructure for a post-Brexit digital and decarbonised future, demonstrate how the port needs to generate significant funds in the near term to support these investments.

Jason Holt, Chair of the Port of Dover said, “At the start of 2023, we set the Port of Dover’s vision to be the UK’s most seamless, sustainable, and technology-enabled port. We are at the continental European frontline, so we have had to incorporate new ways of working to combine the more complex border processes and traffic flows following the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The financial results and business volumes give the port the ability and confidence to make the necessary major capital investments over the next few years, to deliver more capacity and quicker throughput across the whole of the port to support the growth and efficiency of each of the business streams in the short to medium term.

In particular, the importance of keeping ferry traffic moving smoothly through the Dover route, locally and nationally, has been demonstrated through the award of £45m from the Levelling Up Fund (LUF). This grant funding is essential in allowing the Kent road network and local communities to remain free of congestion. It supports a much larger and necessary investment in the major reconfiguration of the ferry terminal through our Outbound Controls Project that will dramatically increase capacity and efficiency for our ferry customers.”

Chief Executive, Doug Bannister added,

“We’ve created some fantastic partnerships with leading organisations to pursue an innovation agenda across an array of projects from port optimisation to AI. Having launched our sustainability initiative ‘Targeting Our Sustainable Future’ in 2022, we have continued to work towards achieving our Net Zero Target for Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2025, being well on the way with a 96% reduction since 2007. We have completed our Green Corridor at Short Straits (GCSS) project towards establishing a Green Corridor* between the Port of Dover and the Ports of Calais and Dunkirk. This included the identification of viable energy pathways for both landside and marine requirements, including the expected electrical demand of 13 fully electric ferries and work is now underway on how the supporting infrastructure would be delivered to meet this new demand.

Whilst we celebrate some fantastic progress towards our vision, we are also fully alert to the introduction of the EU’s Entry/Exit System (EES) later this year, and the decarbonisation of our port system in the medium-term is a huge challenge in how we achieve the massive power demands and related infrastructure costs that must be met.  Together with major port developments to accomplish across our estate, including the infill of the Granville Dock to support EES preparations, there is a sizeable investment programme to deliver and we are working with several lenders to ensure we have the required capital to do so.”

Jonathan Pascoe, Chief Financial Officer noted, “As part of these infrastructure initiatives, the Port of Dover has already seamlessly welcomed the arrival of P&O’s first hybrid ferry, Pioneer, with their second, Liberté, joining their fleet in Summer 2024. The integration of the new design of vessels was a successful collaboration that ensured our berths are optimised for the new vessels. The Port also looks forward to welcoming DFDS’s six new battery-powered ships due for deployment from 2030.

Commenting on other business areas he said, “We enjoyed our most successful season with Carnival and have announced a new three-year schedule with Viking. This all culminated in Dover being named as the UK’s best departure port at the Cruise Critic Awards”

The cargo business also experienced its busiest winter season in the perishable sector, with 171 vessel calls (up from 156 in 2022) and enough bananas alone (148 million) to provide two each for every person living in the UK.”

Many other aspects of Port of Dover life are consistently adding fantastic value and some of these are captured in our 2023 Corporate & Social Responsibility Report. These initiatives include:

  • The continuation of our environmental monitoring program to assess the quality of the environment within and immediately outside the port’s boundaries
  • The Port of Dover Community Fund, administered through the Kent Community Foundation, with over £121,000 of grant funding rolled out to inspirational causes in the Dover area throughout 2023 and a further £180,000 of funding announced at our recent Annual Consultative Meeting.
  • Our Employee Volunteering Programme – since its start, around 120 colleagues have now delivered over 800 hours of community volunteering
  • Presenting our Port 2050 programme and inviting employees and members of the community for their input – critical in our long-term ambition and future
  • Working in partnership with Educational Institutes to help support the community, strengthen curriculum content and gain access to specialist knowledge

Mr Bannister concluded: “What I hope is clear is that we are on a trajectory whereby we are bringing as many stakeholders as possible into our strategic planning, we are empowering our people to deliver shared success, and are closing the gap every day to where we all want to be.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

*The Green Corridor consortium combined the partners from the CMDC round 1 project: The Port of Dover, P&O Ferries, University of Kent, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Schneider Electric with new partners DFDS, Irish Ferries, Ikigai Capital, JG Maritime Solutions, SSE and ABB. The project is funded by the Department for Transport through round two of the Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition.

The Port of Dover is closing the gap every day between the UK and the world by connecting trade, travel, visitors and communities locally-globally, collaborating with local and international partners to create a more seamless, sustainable and tech-enabled port.

As the UK’s busiest international ferry port and a vital gateway for the movement of people and trade, Dover handles £144 billion of trade per year, 33% of UK trade in goods with the EU and welcomes over 11 million passengers.

Dover is an award-winning cruise port, delivering world-class travel and visitor experiences to over 20 different cruise lines each year. With a growing and diversifying cargo business operating from state-of-the-art facilities, a new marina which is at the centre of the revived waterfront, plus opportunities for further expansion in the future, Dover’s proud history dating back 400 years has a new modern twist.