Tourism, business, labor and cruise industry leaders in Canada have called on the Canadian government to take “immediate action to signal the safe restart of the country’s multi-billion-dollar cruise ship industry.”
The call was presented in a request signed by 13 Canadian organizations, addressed at Transport Canada and sent out to media by Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, one of the signatories.
The organizations have asked the government to “send a clear signal that Canada is open for safe cruise service and tourism by announcing a scalable restart of the cruise industry and rescinding the order on the suspension of cruise in Canada” by the end of 2021.
“This is about clarity, certainty, and confidence for the cruise industry, tourism operators, and the thousands of British Columbians who depend on this vital industry,” said Walt Judas, CEO of Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia and another signatory.
“The cruise and tourism industry has been battered by the pandemic and now it is being challenged with further uncertainty. Providing a clear and immediate roadmap for the safe resumption of Canadian cruise in 2022 is essential to the many businesses and jobs the cruise industry supports,” he added.
The request is signed by CEO of BC Hotel Association Ingrid Jarrett, CEO of Business Council of BC Greg D’Avignon, CEO of BC Marine Terminal Operators Association Stephanie Jones, CEO of British Columbia Maritime Employers Association Mike Leonard, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria Paul Nursey, CEO of Greater Vancouver Board of Trade Bridgitte Anderson, CEO of Greater Victoria Harbour Authority Ian Robertson, CEO of Great Victoria Chamber of Commerce Bruce Williams, Chair of Victoria Cruise Industry Alliance Anna Poustie, President of International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada Rob Ashton, President of Motor Coach Canada Vince Accardi, President and CEO of Tourism Industry Association of Canada Beth Potter and CEO of Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia Walt Judas.
According to it, in British Columbia alone, more than 17,000 jobs are at risk because of the current restrictions. Direct communication of a roadmap to resumption is critical because the cruise industry and their passengers are currently making plans for 2022, the request reads.
“We need to have the full reopening plan for the borders released as soon as possible,” Robertson said. “We know we have missed the 2021 summer cruise season because of the pandemic, but BC can rebound for 2022 if Transport Canada indicates that they will fully rescind the suspension of cruise ships later this fall.”
According to the request, industry and tourism partners have been advocating for “months” on the importance of developing and sharing plans for the safe resumption of cruising in Canadian waters to “instill confidence in Canada’s cruise services.” Complex decisions for what needs to happen to safely restart cruise service must be made “immediately,” the organizations said.
The request called the government’s announcement on the relaxation of the quarantine requirement for fully-vaccinated Canadians returning home “a small first step toward a full reopening of the border in the months ahead.” However, the signatories added, it is important that the reopening plan addresses plans for the marine borders.
“Further uncertainty around the cruise industry and the thousands of workers who depend on it will be created by not including the marine borders in the reopening plans,” the organizations pleaded.
According to the request, the cruise industry generates $4.3 billion in total output, with $2.7 billion contributed to the BC economy alone, and supports 30,000 jobs across Canada, including food and beverage suppliers, hotels, retailers, taxis, visitor destinations, port workers, and maintenance contractors.
The call for Government of Canada action comes as U.S. lawmakers are considering a permanent change that would allow Alaska-bound cruise ships to bypass BC destinations such as Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, and Prince Rupert.
“The cruise industry creates sustained and well-paying jobs for our members, which in turn helps to stimulate the BC and Canadian economies. A strong and clear plan from the government is needed to assure our workforce that their jobs not only matter but are invaluable to this country’s economic recovery,” said Ashton.
The signatories have collectively asked Transport Canada to “immediately and clearly indicate that they will rescind the ban on cruise ships in Canadian waters before the end of 2021, assuming all health and safety measures are taken.”