FOR the first time in 20 years, the port of Palma registered ferry passenger numbers in 2007 as having exceeded the one million mark.
Ports Authority reports published yesterday showed that 1.049 million customers used the service last year compared to 975'384 in 2006. The figures represent an eight percent increase in the amount of people investing in travel on regular ferry services. The statistics also revealed that in the case of the five principal Balearic ports seen as a whole - Palma, Ibiza town, Mahón (on Minorca), Alcudia and La Savina (on Formentera), there had been a four percent increase in passenger numbers over the course of 2007 compared to the previous year.

Alcudia in the north of Majorca handled a further 161'133 passengers in 2007 - a six percent increase on 2006 when 152'285 people used the ferry services there.

Ibiza town proved the most popular as visitors travelling to and from the port there totalled an impressive 2.2 million, a four percent increase on the 1.19 million who had used the facilities in 2006. Nevertheless, from the figure of 2.2 million, 1 million has to be extracted as this represents the number of passengers using Ibiza as a transit port to reach their ultimate destination of the port of La Savina on Formentor where visitor numbers reached 1.18 million.

However, Minorca was not so fortunate last year. The Ports Authority statistics show that ferry travel business through the port of Mahon experienced a downturn of 13 percent: 200'222 used the facilities in 2006 but only 173'808 paid for journeys last year.

The total number of regular ferry service passengers throughout the Balearics in 2007 came to 4.57 million, an increase of 4 percent in respect of the maritime travellers who used the facilities in 2006.