With the US about to allow calls by foreign flag cruise ships between its ports without having to visit a foreign port in between, the Canadian tourist industry is worried about the consequences for its major cruise ports.
As a result, a coalition of Canadian cruise industry businesses and associations have called on the Canadian Government to immediately engage with the US Federal Government to develop a mutually beneficial and responsible approach, in order to address the handling of cruise ships in Canadian waters and ports.
In a statement on its website, the Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC) outlined the problem from a Canadian perpesective.
For decades, the entire Pacific Northwest and Alaska have benefited from continuous cruising in both Canada and the US.
The tourism sector relies on a robust cruise industry; there is a strong need for targeted engagement on behalf of the sector to ensure Canada remains as a stopping point along the increasingly popular Alaskan route.
In May, 2021 and in response to the closure of Canadian ports for the year, US Congress passed the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, a bill aimed at providing a temporary exemption to the US Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) to allow foreign-flagged cruise ships to circumvent federal laws that required them to make an international stopover on route to Alaska from a US port.
The bill was subsequently signed into law by President Biden and effectively allowed cruise ships to bypass Canada for the 2021 season.
There is now an increased threat that this temporary legislation will become permanent, as US Senator Murkowski has proposed legislation that would provide a permanent exemption to the PVSA and allow Alaska-bound cruise ships to bypass destinations, such as British Columbia’s (BC) cities of Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, and Prince Rupert. Simultaneously, Representative Young is preparing similar legislation for the House side of the US Congress.
Should either of these pieces of legislation be enacted, they would decimate BC’s cruise industry, it was claimed.
The cruise industry generates Can$4.3 bill in total, with Can$2.7 bill contributed to the BC’s economy alone, and supports 30,000 jobs across Canada – 17,000 of them in BC. These include food and beverage suppliers, hotels, retailers, taxis, visitor destinations, port workers, and maintenance contractors.
A letter was sent via email to the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and the soon to be appointed Canadian Minister of Finance.