Vancouver tourism industry braces for COVID-19 impact on cruise season
VANCOUVER -- The official start of Vancouver’s cruise ship season is still a few weeks away but concern is already spreading through many tourism businesses in the Lower Mainland.
One of those is the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Visitors numbers are quiet through February and March, but start to pick up as the weather gets warmer and cruise ships start docking.
“Almost 20 per cent of our visitors over the summer months from May to September are cruise ship passengers,” said Sue Kaffka, vice-president of sales and marketing for the Capilano Group.
She said they’re keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 outbreaks and how the advice from officials will impact business.
“We’re looking at it on a daily basis," she said. "We don’t know what to expect.”
Vancouver company Cruise Connections Canada says the industry is taking a hit, but presdient Sanjay Goel said they're still "receiving more booking than cancellations."
He told CTV News the focus on cruise ships is unfair.
“One can never discount someone’s fear, but I think the current situation is overblown," Goel said.
On Monday, the head of Canada’s Public Health Agency, Dr. Theresa Tam, advised people to avoid all cruise ship travel.
That message was echoed by B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry during a news conference Tuesday.
“I feel with the international risk that we have right now around the world that the cruise ship season should be delayed,” Henry said.
Destinations BC has published health information on its website and says its monitoring the situation by the hour. It’s redirecting marketing money to encourage more domestic travel through the province and bringing people from Alberta, to make up for fewer passengers coming through the ports.
Vancouver’s first cruise ship is scheduled to dock April 2.