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Concerns raised about proposed Alaska cruise ship legislation that could cost B.C. millions

Click to play video: 'B.C. tourism industry concerned about proposed U.S. cruise ship law' B.C. tourism industry concerned about proposed U.S. cruise ship law
The B.C. tourism industry is worried about a proposed U.S. law that would allow cruise ships bound for Alaska to bypass B.C. altogether. Grace Ke reports – Mar 24, 2021

Alaska is hoping to salvage the 2021 cruise ship season but at the expense of B.C.

The state wants to pass a new bill allowing ships to sail directly from Seattle to Alaska, without stopping at a B.C. port.

Click to play video: 'Proposed U.S. bill could be a devastating blow to B.C.’s tourism industry' Proposed U.S. bill could be a devastating blow to B.C.’s tourism industry
Proposed U.S. bill could be a devastating blow to B.C.’s tourism industry – Mar 24, 2021

Ottawa recently extended its cruise ship ban until 2022, which could potentially be another huge blow for B.C.’s tourism sector.

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Read more: Big hit to B.C’s cruise ship sector as Feds extend ban until 2022

Cruise vessels carrying more than 100 people will not be allowed to enter Canadian waters until Feb. 28, 2022.

The cruise industry pumps millions into the B.C. economy.

Ian Robertson, CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, said previously the cruise industry accounts for about $130 million a year in the Victoria region alone and employs about 800 people.

Click to play video: 'Extension on cruise ship ban another blow to hard hit B.C. tourism industry' Extension on cruise ship ban another blow to hard hit B.C. tourism industry
Extension on cruise ship ban another blow to hard hit B.C. tourism industry – Feb 4, 2021

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.

The BC Liberals have raised concerns if this legislation is introduced in the U.S., there is no guarantee it would be reversed once cruise ships are allowed back in B.C.’s waters next year.

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The legislation has a provision to only allow for excluding a Canadian port before Feb. 28, 2022, when the restriction of cruise ships is set to lift in Canada.

“If (Premier) John Horgan continues to remain silent on the issue, we risk permanently losing hundreds of millions of dollars in cruise ship tourism revenue, plus the hundreds of B.C. businesses who rely on cruise ship traffic,” Opposition critic for tourism, arts, and culture Teresa Wat said in a release.

Click to play video: 'Impact of Canada’s decision to extend large cruise ship ban' Impact of Canada’s decision to extend large cruise ship ban
Impact of Canada’s decision to extend large cruise ship ban – Feb 11, 2021

Horgan was asked about the issue Wednesday, and said his government is confident that Ottawa will advocate against the legislation.

Read more: Cruise industry blasts B.C. officials’ warnings to cancel sailings over COVID-19

“I’m fairly confident that the relationships that we’ve had with the United States will endure, in fact, grow stronger, as I know it has with Washington State,” Horgan said.

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“I’ll certainly be reaching out to the Alaska governor’s office to just read and reaffirm and reinforce that we have a number of issues in common.

“I’m confident that this blip along the way is a result of frustration, quite frankly, by Alaska, that that we’re not having ships stopping in Canadian ports for very good reasons. And I think overwhelmingly British Columbians support that position.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. to hire out-of-work tourism and hospitality workers at COVID-19 vaccination clinics' B.C. to hire out-of-work tourism and hospitality workers at COVID-19 vaccination clinics
B.C. to hire out-of-work tourism and hospitality workers at COVID-19 vaccination clinics – Mar 24, 2021

Read more: B.C. to hire 1,400 out-of-work tourism and hospitality workers at vaccination clinics

Horgan also announced on Wednesday that the province plans to hire 1,400 out-of-work tourism and hospitality workers to assist with non-clinical staff work at mass-vaccination clinics.

The B.C. government will backstop some salaries for more than 1,400 tourism and hospitality workers being hired to work at COVID-19 mass-vaccination clinics.

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