Rosyth-Zeebrugge ferry service to resume in May

SCOTLAND'S only ferry link to the continent will resume in May next year, it was announced today.

Ship operator Norfolkline took on the Rosyth to Zeebrugge service after it was ditched by Superfast earlier this year.

A booking service has now been set up and the ferry is due to sail three times a week each way from May 18.

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Scottish Government transport minister Stewart Stevenson said the link would help boost tourist numbers in next year's Homecoming celebrations, a series of events designed to bring Scots back to the country from across the world.

"Maintaining connections with major European markets is vital for Scotland, particularly during these challenging economic times," he said.

"In the six years this route has been operating, it has carried nearly one million passengers, 4.2 million tonnes of freight and made a significant contribution to Scotland's tourist industry."

The last operator announced in May that it would sail for the last time on September 13.

Norfolkline said its ship will depart from Zeebrugge in Belgium every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from Rosyth in Fife every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Charles Hammond, group chief executive at Forth Ports, said: "It comes at a time when every effort should be made to encourage economic activity.

"With a direct ferry link, Scotland can once again promote its world renowned tourism centres to a much wider audience while hauliers can look forward to reduced transport costs and faster access to continental markets."

Norfolkline is constructing a new ship for the route. Facilities on board will include 109 en-suite cabins, a bar, restaurant, wide screen cinema, on-board shop and children's play area.

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Denise Hill, head of international marketing for tourist agency VisitScotland, said: "We are delighted to be working with Norfolkline to promote their Rosyth-Zeebrugge ferry service to ensure that these travellers continue to exploit the opportunity of a direct crossing and maximise the number of nights they spend within our borders."