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Federal government announces return of Canadian cruise ship industry

Prohibition of cruise ships in Canadian waters to end Nov. 1 if operators comply with health requirements
Federal Minister of Transportation Omar Alghabra announces the resumption of international cruise ships in Canadian waters for Nov. 1. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Federal Minister of Transportation Omar Alghabra announced Thursday that as of Nov. 1, the prohibition of cruise ships in Canadian waters will no longer be in effect for operators that are able to fully comply with public health requirements.

Cruise ship operators and related industries representing $4 billion of the Canadian economy – $130 million for Victoria alone – can prepare for a full 2022 cruise ship season, Alghabra said at Victoria’s Ogden Point Pier. “Thanks to the extraordinary work Canadians have done getting vaccinated and following public health advice to get through the global COVID-19 pandemic, our government is ready to announce that we are accelerating the timeline for resuming cruise ship activity.”

Prior to Thursday’s announcement, the cruise industry wasn’t expecting a definitive decision on the 2022 season until next February.

ALSO READ: Victoria-led cruise tourism, business coalition warns of potential losses

Public health authorities, however, must remain vigilant. The November date is dependant on public health situations, Alghabra said, especially in communities where cruise ships dock.

The accelerated timeline aligns with the United States and Alghabra noted the federal government is continuing to work with U.S. Congress to see the repeal of a recently tabled bill that would allow U.S. cruise ships to bypass Canadian waters. Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska senator responsible for the bill, had said it would only be in place until Canadian cruise restrictions were lifted.

B.C. Minister of Transport Rob Fleming thanked Ian Robertson, CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, for his “effective advocacy” towards Thursday’s announcement. Robertson, along with representatives from 13 other tourism groups across B.C., signed a letter to Ottawa requesting this announcement. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps added that while there “is not often consensus in this region about many things,” all 13 mayors across Greater Victoria, as well as the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nation chiefs, had written to Ottawa asking for certainty for the 2022 cruise ship season.

Anna Poustie, chair of the Victoria Cruise Industry Alliance representing cruise-reliant businesses, said the loss of this year’s cruise season was financially crushing for their businesses. “Today, we can put that behind us,” she added.

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria Harbour Authority seeks end to federal ban on cruise ship stops in Canada


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