Metro Vancouver tourism industry braces for economic impact as cruise ship ban is extended
VANCOUVER -- Metro Vancouver businesses that rely on cruise ship tourism were dealt another devastating blow Friday, with Ottawa officially extending its ban on cruise ships carrying more than 100 people until the end of October.
The decision extends a ban first announced in March.
"COVID-19 is still a very serious threat, but with the right plan and the right investments, we will weather this storm together," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday after the move was announced by federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau.
The ban may not be surprising to everyone given restrictions around travel and concerns around large gatherings, but the economic impacts will be significant.
According to the Port of Vancouver, more than one million cruise ship passengers visited the city on 288 ships in 2019. It says each ship visit stimulates an estimated $3 million to the local economy.
Businesses in Gastown are now bracing for a summer like they've never seen.
Ken Grano from the OK Boot Corral on Carrall Street estimates about 80 per cent of his store sales in July and August are from tourists, including many from cruise ships.
"Is it going to hurt us? Yes, definitely," Grano said. "But then you look at your neighbours, it's hurting them too."
Grano wonders how many businesses will be able to survive.
"All we can do is cross our fingers," he said.
On Vancouver Island, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority was expecting 300 cruise ships this year, carrying more than 770,000 passengers between April and October.
It says it supports the ban, and is hopeful the cruise ship season will return in 2021 with enhanced health and safety measures in place.
About 50 per cent of the GVHA's staff has been temporarily laid off.
The federal government acknowledged Friday that the extension of the ban will have a major impact on the tourism industry, and said it's looking at possible measures it could take.