Transport Canada’s decision to nix the country’s cruise-ship season could cost Victoria’s economy more than $130 million, on top of other hits to the local tourism industry.
On May 29 the cruise ship ban invoked in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was extended into the fall, with Transportation Minister Marc Garneau announcing a ban on passenger ships with accommodations for more than 100 people in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31.
In an emailed statement, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) said it supports the government’s decision and had taken actions in anticipation of the extension including laying off 50 per cent of staff, reducing expenses and deferring major capital projects.
“We look forward to the return of cruise under enhanced health and safety measures during the 2021 season,” the GVHA says. “Health and safety for the community are the top concern for our organization.”
The loss in passenger fees will impact local amenities maintained by the GVHA, including the Ogden Point Breakwater, Inner Harbour Lower Causeway, Ship Point and Fisherman’s Wharf.
“Without cruise revenues in 2020, we will need to explore how we maintain these facilities for community use over the next several years,” the GVHA says. “This will include further deferring capital projects and reducing maintenance and repairs, while not compromising safety.”
In Victoria, cruise supports 800 jobs both directly and indirectly, the GVHA says, and contributes more than $130 million to the regional economy.
“We are all in this together and we remain committed to working with all cruise partners for the safe return of cruise to Victoria in the future.”
According to the Greater Victoria Tourism Rescue and Recovery Task Force, projected losses to the local economy over the next 10 to 14 months as a result of COVID-19 could be as high as $1.4 billion. The task force estimates that more than 20,000 people will lose or have lost their jobs.
With files from the Canadian Press.
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