The B.C. cruise ship industry is expressing frustration over American moves to bypass the province, while Premier John Horgan is hoping to reassure the sector.
Horgan says a bill introduced this week by Utah Senator Mike Lee to permanently bypass British Columbia as a cruise destination is not something he expects to hurt the province’s tourism sector.
“I’m confident Canada has a got a good handle on this. The relationship between (U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) is a solid one,” Horgan said.
“We have good relationships to the south in Washington, Oregon, and California, and now emerging relationships with Alaska. I know the cruise ship sector very much values Victoria, Vancouver, Prince Rupert, as destinations for travellers around the world.”
The United States has passed a temporary law allowing cruise ships to bypass Canada due to the pandemic. Canada has banned cruised ships until next year due to COVID-19 concerns.
The U.S. Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 (PVSA) legislates that American cruise lines must dock at a foreign port between two U.S. ports.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO Ian Robertson is advocating for Transport Canada to announce plans to rescind the order suspending cruise stops in Canada that is currently in effect until Feb. 28, 2022.
Robertson is asking for Transport Canada to announce that the current suspension of cruise ships calling to Canadian waters will end by this fall, confirming that the industry is welcome to return in 2022 by adhering to measures determined by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
“Cruise lines need time to prepare for the full resumption of cruises and the government of Canada, through Transport Canada, needs to signal that they are prepared to welcome the industry back in a safe and measured way,” Robertson said.
“We continue to work with the provincial government and industry partners to ask Transport Canada to confirm that cruise is welcome back to Canada.”
The economic impact of the cruise industry in British Columbia is currently estimated at $2.7 billion a year.
Horgan says no advocacy from his government could have prevented the decision to introduce the bill.
“This new overture by the junior senator from Utah is certainly a complicating factor to be sure, but not one that we could have predicted,” Horgan said.
“So for B.C. and for me to suggest that somehow I could have thrown myself in front of this bus and fought this is the height of hubris, in my mind.”View link »