The ferry industry will invest more than £1 billion in its infrastructure in the next few years.

The new funding was unveiled by the Passenger Shipping Association at last week’s ABTA conference and will see money spent on both new ferries and improved facilities at the ports.

Deals already agreed include a £357 million purchase of two new superferries by Stena Line which will sail between Harwich and the Hook of Holland from 2010 while £285 million will be spent by P&O Ferries bringing two new ferries on its Dover-Calais service from 2010.

Ashore, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and Howard Holdings have agreed to spend £130 million on a new passenger building for Condor Ferries while £16.5 million has been earmarked by Portsmouth Port on a new passenger terminal and other improvements.

PSA director Bill Gibbons said: “Our members handle more than 36 million passenger journeys every year and they have been quietly investing millions of pounds in new ships and services to compete with other forms of travel.

“The results have been impressive  – ferry travel is definitely undergoing a revival as people turn away from chaos at airports and look for hassle-free, value travel with short check-in times where there are no luggage limitations.

“But what’s exciting is this continued scale and commitment to investing in new ships and services for the future. We know now more than a billion pounds has already been committed by ferry companies and ports with new ships and services coming on stream between now and 2011.”