Plans are in the pipeline to introduce a brand new passenger service between Southsea and Sandown seafront from as early as Summer this year. The new operation, which would travel past Bembridge and Culver Down, would allow holidaymakers and locals alike to travel directly to and from The Bay two days a week, with two crossings each day.
The sight of a hovercraft on Sandown Beach isn’t all that unusual however – dignitaries were shuttled to Dinosaur Isle for the launch of the Visit Isle of Wight ‘Dinosaur Island’ campaign back in June 2013 (pictured + video below). In September last year the hovercraft made another appearance in Sandown for a publicity campaign promoting Hovertravel’s Blue Card.
Permission is still being sought from the Crown to use the beach as a landing pad for the service, however it hoped that the new operation will be up and running in time for the busy Summer season, which could help bring much-needed tourists into the seaside town.
The revealing of the exciting plans comes following recent positive news for the town of Sandown, which includes the future demolition of the derelict former Savoy hotel and the approval of planning permission for The Grand. A new restaurant is also being built overlooking the Bay.
Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, said:
“Ian Ward and the Sandown Business Association contacted us last month to explore the idea of bringing our craft to Sandown during the 2015 summer season. We always open to new ideas which might boost tourism to the Isle of Wight and we provisionally agreed the concept, subject to gaining the appropriate permissions.”
The plan is for the service to operate from 14th July 2015 to 27th August 2015, every Tuesday and Thursday and to the timetable below:
Depart Southsea 9:45 – Arrive Sandown 10:10
Depart Sandown 10:40 – Arrive Southsea 11:05
Depart Southsea 2:45 – Arrive Sandown 3:10
Depart Sandown 3:15 – Arrive Southsea 3:40
“We expect the journey to be about 25 minutes which will give passengers from Southsea up to five hours in Sandown. This service will also help passengers travelling from Sandown the opportunity to spend half-a-day in Portsmouth and we will be offering our Island resident Blue Card holders a discount fare too.
The next steps are to be able to confirm all the details by the end of February with an official announcement in March, followed by some test trips in May and June. “
Nicky Parker, chair of Sandown Business Association, said:
“This new hovercraft service is a great opportunity to provide easy access from the mainland to the beach, zoo, dinosaur museum and numerous other activities and independent retailers available in Sandown. The Business Association is happy to be supporting it and we hope this will soon become an even more frequent service.”
Featured photograph: Sandown-Bay.co.uk