Comment: While cruise ships are allowed to return, it’s full steam ahead

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The ports along the west coast are delighted to once again welcome international visitors who are passionate about cruising our spectacular shores. Our ports have been closed to visitors for 19 months due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government’s decision to lift restrictions on cruise ships from Monday, four months earlier than originally planned, is good news, and in part thanks to strong advocacy with the federal government with our partners in the world. tourism industry.

There is no doubt that the cruise ship industry is important to British Columbia’s tourism ecosystem and to the thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the steady arrival of ships, the small businesses that put showcasing the best of their region and visitors enjoying all that British Columbia has to offer. .

British Columbia is a destination of choice. In 2019, 1.8 million tourists from around the world booked trips to sail from our ports and, in many cases, to Alaska.

Throughout the pandemic, cruise-related companies in British Columbia have felt the profound impact of health, safety and travel restrictions, as well as temporary and proposed changes to the US Passenger Vessel Services Act. .

These changes are intended to allow foreign-flagged cruise ships to circumvent laws that require them to make an international stopover en route to Alaska from a US port.

All hands are on deck to ensure that BC’s cruise ship industry comes back with a vengeance. The Ministries of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sports and Transport and Infrastructure have formed and co-led a Cruise Ship Restarting Committee as we follow the advice of health experts and plan for the safe return of cruise passengers to British Columbia.

We will ensure that government and industry partners continue to call for significant federal efforts to change the course of US law affecting cruises in Canadian waters.

In 2019, cruises generated $ 2.7 billion for the BC economy and created more than 17,000 well-paying jobs.

Cruise bookings for 2022 already indicate a promising future for the sector with 600 stopovers or ship calls in Vancouver and Victoria alone.

We expect to see over a million passengers at each port, and many of these ships stop at the ports of Nanaimo, Prince Rupert, Port Alberni and Alert Bay. Resuming cruise stopovers in British Columbia is a win-win situation for many cruise passengers keen to explore beyond their ship’s railings.

The resumption of cruise ships in our waters signals another step towards our strong recovery.

Meeting the highest health and safety standards for those landing on our shores is exactly the type of insurance we and international visitors expect. Monday will be a big day for all workers, businesses, communities and visitors who appreciate the power of cruising.

Mark is Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport for British Columbia; Judas is CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of BC; Robertson is the CEO of the Greater Victoria Port Authority.

Written with the support of Rob Fleming, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure; Brenda Baptiste, President of Indigenous Tourism BC; Richard Porges, President and CEO of Destination BC; and Ingrid Jarrett, President and CEO of the BC Hotel Association.

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