Friday, February 5, 2021

Prince Rupert's Cruise industry faces another setback, as Federal Government extends Cruise ship ban through 2021

The Regatta sails off to new adventures after 
a 2018 port visit in Prince Rupert

Ship spotters following the movements in Prince Rupert harbour will be disappointed once again this year, with the 2021 Prince Rupert Cruise season now officially called off. 

That following an announcement from the Federal government on Thursday that has extended the ban on cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers from Canadian waters until February 28, 2022.

The ban first put in place one year ago as part of the Federal response to then newly arrive COVID-19 virus, comes as Canadians face the challenges of a second year of COVID and a concerning roll out of vaccines across the nation.

The Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra noted on Thursday that should the pandemic situation improve he  does have the option of rescinding the interim orders

Cruise vessels in Canadian waters pose a risk to our health care systems. The Government of Canada will continue to evaluate the situation and make changes as necessary to ensure the health and safety of all Canadians. Should the COVID-19 pandemic sufficiently improve to allow the resumption of these activities, the Minister of Transport has the ability to rescind the Interim Orders.

However, with the current vaccine program currently mired in controversy and a timeline that suggests most Canadians may not receive a COVID-19 vaccine shot until later this year, the short window of a summer cruise season for the North Coast would now seem out of reach for 2021.

Passengers from the French Cruise Vessel L'Austral taking a walk
through Mariner's Park in September of 2019

The last complete Cruise season for Prince Rupert came in 2019, when the Northland Terminal saw 28 port calls and over 11, 400 visitors coming ashore to explore the region.

While the visual of the large ships tied up to the Northland Terminal may be a disappointing missing scene on the waterfront vista.

For those local business operators that look forward to the annual influx of tourists that comes with the port visits, a second year for the ban will just add to the challenges they face already from COVID.

The Federal decision will also make for a significant dent in the volume of visits that the Tourism Prince Rupert office will see at the Atlin Terminal welcome centre, a large segment of those that visit the Centre come directly off the ships that berth steps away.

Tourism Prince Rupert noted the challenges that 2020 provided with a report in mid November, as they prepare for 2021, it would seem that the year ahead may also deliver more need to navigate some unusual times and situations.

The cancellation of the 2021 season also will mean an additional year of keeping relationships strong for the Port of Prince Rupert's Cruise initiative, which has been working in recent years to keep Prince Rupert on the radar for the tour providers. 

A task that will now require some extra efforts towards keeping the industry one that has a future for the region.

For more notes on Tourism on the North Coast see our archive page here.

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