The ferry sector plans to power full steam ahead irrespective of the Brexit outcome.

Industry body Discover Ferries announced during the Abta Travel Convention in Tokyo plans for 13 new ships before 2023, with seven to be introduced before 2021.

This represents £1 billion investment in new ships and ports.

Latest industry figures show that more than 38 million passenger journeys were made by ferry in the past year to British islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland, France, Spain and The Netherlands.

Discover Ferries director Emma Batchelor said: “There has been much discussion around the ability for people to travel to and from Europe post-Brexit.

“The reality is that holidaymakers and other passengers will still be able to travel in comfort and with ease by ferry, wherever they want to go, regardless of a deal or no deal scenario.

“Although there are likely to be some changes in travel document requirements when travelling to Europe, travel will still be straightforward and ferries will continue to operate great services both on domestic routes across Scotland and the British Islands, as well as over to Ireland and continental Europe.”

She added: “The continued investment in new passenger ferries and port facilities is not only great news for the millions of holidaymakers who value comfort and space when they travel, it also underlines the industry’s commitment to providing a high quality, efficient service regardless of what happens post-Brexit.

“It also sends a clear message that passengers should book their ferry with confidence, regardless of a deal or no deal Brexit scenario.”

UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Bob Sanguinetti said: “The UK shipping industry is vital to the UK economy, contributing £14 billion annually and supporting an estimated 86,000 jobs.

“It is wonderful to see the ongoing investment in new passenger ferries and ports. This money will not only ensure holidaymakers continue to receive first class service, but the investment in new greener, low carbon ferries will also help us tackle climate change, a top priority for the UK Chamber of Shipping.”