OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — Cruise ships carrying 100 or more passengers won’t be allowed in Canadian waters anytime soon.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced Friday morning cruise ships with 100 or more passengers will continue to be banned in Canadian waters until Oct. 31 “to ensure that Canadians and our transportation system remain safe and secure.”
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He says he understands that this will have a big economic impact on the tourism industry and that the government is looking at what to do about that.
Garneau says smaller passenger ships are also banned from Arctic waters until the end of October but after July 1 can operate elsewhere with the approval and guidelines of local health authorities.
Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports.
A ban on larger cruise ships docking in Canada was first announced in March along with other travel restrictions. That’s when Garneau initially put a ban on larger cruise ships – with 500 or more passengers – docking in Canadain waters until July.
The situation puts the livelihoods of thousands of hospitality workers at risk as many sectors rely on cruise ship season.
Dayna Miller from Tourism Vancouver says while the announcement is understandable, it doesn’t ease the pain the industry is feeling right now.
“Obviously putting health and safety of Canadians first, is of utmost importance. Having said that, we’re very mindful of the implications and impact to our tourism community,” she says.
“You know the vast majority of small businesses would be feeling that impact and it’s far-reaching even beyond that. Whether it’s longshoremen, tour operators, taxi drivers, or hotels, and even the food and beverage [and] agriculture sector are impacted.”
She says Vancouver was expecting 288 cruise ship calls this season, which each bring in millions to the local economy.
For now, the tourism industry plans to focus on attracting domestics visitors.
Estimates from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority also suggest the cruise ship sector is responsible for almost 14,000 jobs and more than $210-million in tax revenue.
The cruise ship season is worth more than $2 billion in Vancouver.
Only one ship left the Port of Vancouver after Halloween last year and that was on November 1.
-With files from Dean Recksiedler