The last few years were very tough for the Swedish ferry market, especially for the passenger sector.
Although the freight market was not affected much by the pandemic and started to recover earlier, the passenger traffic was more exposed to restrictions, the Swedish Ports Organisation said in a report.
In 2022, total passenger traffic in Sweden amounted to nearly 21 mill pax, which was an increase of 35% in comparison with 2021 and 61% compared to 2020 figures.
The largest port in terms of regular ferry passenger traffic was Stockholm (7.5 mill passengers in 2022, 69.8% year-on-year).
Traffic to popular tourist destinations, such as Åland Islands and Helsinki increased. One of the busiest ports for passengers was Helsingborg (4.9 mill passengers in 2022, 23.5% y-o-y), as commuters restarted regular ferry crossings to Denmark.
Increases were recorded in the vast majority of Swedish ports. The situation was very similar to other Baltic ports, where after uncertain times for ferry trips, passengers started to choose ferry crossings.
Also, due to the economic slowdown and higher rate of inflation, people were more willing to choose short-haul trips than longer distant vacations, which may have an impact on increased demand for ferry transport in the near future.
Turning to the Swedish cruise market, this market was very sensitive to Covid-19 restrictions, especially in 2020 and 2021.
Currently, due to the war in Ukraine, many cruise lines have suspended voyages to the one of the biggest cruise ports – St Petersburg – and tend to avoid calling at ports, which are in the closest vicinity to the conflict.
Cruise operators opted to call at Swedish, Danish or Polish ports instead of calling at Helsinki or Tallinn, which are located near Russia. Regardless of the conflict, the number of cruise ships calls in Sweden increased in comparison with 2021 and became slightly higher than initially estimated.
One of the biggest cruise ports in the Baltic is Stockholm (ranked fifth biggest cruise port in the Baltic in 2022), which served 252,037 tourists last year, almost 9% more than in 2021. The number of cruise calls increased by 109. Many cruise ships decided to stay extra days in Stockholm. The season has ended in October with the departure of the ‘AIDAdiva’.
Another important port in terms of number of calls and passengers was Gothenburg (+15 calls y-o-y). The number of calls was higher than in the previous record season of 2014. The number of calls for 2022 increased by 30 than initially planned, due to geopolitical situation.
This year might be another record year not only for Gothenburg, but also for other Swedish ports, the report said.
The Swedish State plans investments in new infrastructure of SEK437 mill during 2022/2023. The investments will be mainly seen in new railroads and roads, but some funds were also reserved for shipping, such as improvement of the fairways in Luleå, Gothenburg, Södertälje and Vänern.