A HAMPSHIRE ferry operator has announced an increase in sailings following a rise in demand.

Wightlink will be operating more sailings at weekends on both its Portsmouth-Fishbourne and Lymington-Yarmouth routes from Friday July 24.

The company has seen an increase in vehicle bookings since the relaxation on travel restrictions.

Wightlink's chief executive, Keith Greenfield, said: "I am delighted to announce we are responding to increased demand by scheduling more services at weekends.

"The extra sailings will be good news for the Isle of Wight’s tourism business and offer more opportunities for Islanders and mainlanders to cross the Solent.

“We are ready to welcome more customers.

"We have reduced passenger capacity on all our ships so there is plenty of room in our lounges for everyone to find a place to sit, while keeping a social distance from other people.

“Ships are cleaned frequently and to high standard and hand sanitisers are available. Signage on board ferries and at ports will help customers to make their way around safely.”

A takeaway café selling hot and cold drinks and refreshments will be available on most sailings.

Wightlink has been awarded the ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark by VisitBritain. It shows the company complies with all government and public health guidance and has carried out the necessary risk assessments.

A company spokesperson said: "Although foot passenger numbers are still very low, Wightlink is constantly reviewing the situation with a view to resuming its FastCat service between Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier Head as soon as demand increases.

"There will be further announcements in the near future."