Cruise ship arrives at Victoria Harbour, a prime source of international tourism that has been suspended in the COVID-19 pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

Cruise ship arrives at Victoria Harbour, a prime source of international tourism that has been suspended in the COVID-19 pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

‘Welcome to Victoria’ garden a casualty of extended cruise ship ban

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority supports extension, but says losses will follow

The continued suspension of cruise ships entering Canada will have a ripple effect, leaving Victoria’s Inner Harbour without its hallmark ‘Welcome to Victoria’ garden this summer.

On Thursday, Transport Canada announced that the ban on cruise ships carrying more than 100 people will continue until Feb. 28, 2022.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) expressed support for Transport Canada’s decision, but says the extension won’t be without sacrifices.

Cruise represents more than 70 per cent of GVHA’s annual revenues and the COVID-19 pandemic has left a mark on the local industry, with a permanent reduction in GVHA staff and a move to essential service only in operations. Contracts with local businesses have also been cut or reduced.

READ ALSO: Harbour authority CEO charts course for return of cruise ships to post-pandemic Victoria

“Over the past year, businesses that serve the cruise industry adjusted, postponed, and pivoted with the hope that cruise would return in 2021,” says a statement from GVHA CEO Ian Robertson. “This further uncertainty will have a lasting impact on small businesses in Greater Victoria. We hope that many of these businesses will survive the coming months until the resumption of cruise is permitted.”

The lost revenue will also be noticeable across the organization’s properties. Landscaping and beautification throughout the Inner Harbour will be substantially reduced and the ‘Welcome to Victoria’ garden on the south side of the Lower Causeway, won’t be planted or maintained.

In addition, the GVHA says that many events – even those safe to operate under provincial health orders – will be cancelled without the necessary funding.

“The health and safety of the community, and the efforts made to reduce the spread of COVID-19 remain our top priority,” GVHA says. “Cruise will resume when it is safe to do so, when border restrictions are removed, and when people may safely enjoy non-essential travel. “

READ ALSO: Cancelled cruise ships costs Victoria more than $130 million


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