Visitor numbers to the Isles of Scilly on routes to and from the mainland rose by more than 4%  in 2014, which is the first increase since 2011.

Figures just released by the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company for the full 2014 calendar year show the number of passenger carryings on its air and sea services up 4.2% on the previous year to nearly 203,000.

Combined with record numbers of visitors from cruise ships to the islands during the summer, this has boosted the overall visitor market to the Isles of Scilly by 8% during 2014.

Steamship Company Chief Executive Rob Goldsmith said “We’re delighted that there has been significant upturn in visitor numbers to Scilly and that the recent decline from the mainland has been halted.

‘I believe it’s a result of a combination of factors including improved marketing and promotions, the growing impact of the Islands’ Partnership, the recovery in the UK economy, good summer weather, investment in new facilities, and fewer negative stories about Scilly’s transport issues in the media, especially after spring 2014.”

Mr Goldsmith said numbers carried by the Steamship Company’s Scillonian III passenger ship increased by over 6% during the year, with strong growth in both staying and day trip visitors.

Air travel from Land’s End, Newquay and Exeter airports operated by in-house airline, Skybus, grew by nearly 2% for the year, despite flight operations being severely disrupted by the prolonged closure of Land’s End Airport during the first quarter of the year due to water logging of its grass runways, and also throughout July to construct new tarmac runways.

But following the opening of the hard runways at Land’s End Airport this summer, total air passengers carried by Skybus to Scilly from all airports increased by 12% in the period from August to December 2014, compared to the same time in 2013.

Mr Goldsmith added: “The challenge now is to keep this positive momentum going to establish an upward trend into2015 and beyond. We are committed to doing everything we can to try to stimulate further sustainable market growth, and we intend to operate our largest-ever flying programme to Scilly in 2015.

“The Steamship Company doesn’t control many of the factors that influence the overall level of demand for travel to Scilly. However, the investments and upgrades in airport and harbour infrastructure on Scilly and to our own Company facilities should ensure that we are well-placed in coming years to build on this recent success”.