Victoria will see an economic loss upwards of $65 million due to a federal mandate to delay the start of the cruise season due to concerns over COVID-19.
On Friday morning Transport Canada announced all port calls carrying more than 500 people will be delayed until July 1, and be cancelled altogether in northern Canada.
Canada’s busiest port of call is in Victoria, and this year, anticipated 300 ship calls and more than 800,000 passengers.
The delayed start will cut 114 calls and approximately 287,593 passengers, as well as thousands of crew members.
“All along we’ve said the health and safety of the folks in Victoria and the public are our number one priority, and all along reached out to the Government of Canada, Health Canada and CBSA [Canada Border Services Agency] and we respect the decision,” said Ian Robertson, CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, which operates the cruise ship terminal at Ogden Point. “But, this will have a significant economic impact in Victoria.”
Business partners ranging from tour bus operators, pedicab drivers, artists and local restaurants will all feel the impact of an industry that usually brings $130 million to the city.
“I can’t recall a more significant time when we’ve seen this type of situation,” Robertson said. “We’re in uncharted waters and it’s going to change day by day … this is unprecedented times, but we’re facing unprecedented times across the country.”
Robertson added that while there are some calls from ships carrying less than 500 passengers, the number is insignificant. Tours are usually booked two years in advanced, however, the GVHA will try to book more smaller tours until July arrives.