Greater Victoria is set to receive the sweet injection of American travellers’ dollars again after the federal government announced Thursday that cruise ships will soon be allowed back into Canadian waters.
Speaking at the Ogden Point Pier July 15, Federal Minister of Transportation Omar Alghabra said the prohibition on cruise ships will end Nov. 1, barring any major changes in pandemic recovery.
Victoria won’t see a significant cruise ship tourism return until next spring, but the announcement gives cruise lines and terminal operator the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority the go-ahead to start planning and booking. It also provides hope to local businesses.
“We’re relieved,” said Bruce Williams, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO. “It’s a sign of progress that we’re moving back to where we need to be.”
Cruise ship tourism is incredibly important to local businesses, said Downtown Victoria Business Association executive director Jeff Bray. Taxis, pedicabs, buses, retail businesses, restaurants and cafes are all hugely affected by that foot traffic, he added.
The cruise ship industry brings more than $130 million annually to the Greater Victoria economy and is responsible for more than 800 local jobs.
With regional and inter-provincial travel now allowed, Bray said businesses are already having a better time this summer than they were last. Still, with certain tour operators and retailers depending heavily on cruise ship traffic, he hopes the federal government continues to financially support them until next spring.
“For a select group, it’s going to be another tough year,” he said.
Both Bray and Williams agreed the government’s announcement was a good sign all the hard work and lobbying of the tourism sector and business groups has paid off.
“They obviously heard and understood the importance,” Bray said.
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