A ban on cruise ships entering Canadian waters is going to have “significant implications” for B.C.’s economy, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO said Thursday.
Ian Robertson said the organization supports the decision but the cruise industry pumps about $130 million a year into the Victoria region and employs about 800 people.
“It’s going to be very tough for our operators who rely on cruise tourism,” Robertson said.
Cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people will not be allowed to enter Canadian waters until Feb. 28, 2022, the government announced Thursday.
B.C is the hub of cruise travel in Canada, making up about 50 per cent of the country’s cruise traffic, according to a report from Destination BC.
Prior to the pandemic, the Port of Vancouver saw over 800,000 cruise passengers each year and the city was awarded the Top-Rated U.S. & Canada Cruise Destination in Cruise Critic’s 2019 Cruisers’ Choice Destination.
But that all changed once COVID-19 cases began to mount aboard cruise ships, and thousands of cruise ship passengers found themselves stranded on the vessels with many ports refusing entry.
Canada’s ban on cruise ships was put into effect March 19, 2020, prompting concern among the industry and tourism sector.
Canada’s Transport Minister said these measures are needed to protect Canadians.
“Temporary prohibitions to cruise vessels and pleasure craft are essential to continue to protect the most vulnerable among our communities and avoid overwhelming our health care systems. This is the right and responsible thing to do,” Canada’s Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement.
The order does not apply to BC Ferries, or to water buses and taxis.
“Essential passenger vessels, such as ferries and water taxis, should continue to follow local public health guidance and protocols, and follow mitigation measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent future outbreaks,” Transport Canada said.
Those who do not comply with the rules could be liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $1 million or to imprisonment for a term of up to 18 months, or to both.
With files from CKNW’s Janet Brown.