December 15, 2010
Well thought out, sustainable growth!
The international cruise sector has experienced a surge in growth in recent years as a result of renewed traveller interest in this type of tourism product. For a number of years now, Québec has focused on developing Saint Lawrence-based cruise activities with a view to tapping into growth in this sector and boosting the number of international visitors to the province.
To offer an appealing product which compared favourably with other international destinations, it has been necessary to provide for major development and infrastructure enhancements. Given the forecast rise in the number of passenger ships and tourists, it was essential that a sustainable development and international cruise promotion strategy be drawn up to ensure respect for the varied ecosystems of the Saint Lawrence, to preserve the river’s exceptional heritage value, and to address the needs of communities located along the river’s shores.
The Government of Québec, in cooperation with SLCA and other partners, tabled a development strategy in 2008, which was accompanied by a 5-year commitment from the Québec Ministry of Tourism guaranteeing support for action undertaken in this particular niche of Québec’s tourism industry.
Since SLCA ensures cooperation among the various stakeholders (ports of call, tourism and promotional bureaus, greeting services, cruise lines, and others), the association clearly plays a key role in applying this strategy.
Back in 2006, SLCA announced plans to quadruple the number of cruise ship passengers to some 400 000 by 2014, but the recent financial crisis has severely impacted the US market and slowed the rate of growth in the cruiseshipping industry. Although the Saint Lawrence has been affected as well, results to date point to consistently rising numbers and the outlook for growth in the years ahead remains extremely positive.
To ensure sustainable destination development, SLCA relies upon a supply of distinctive, authentic, quality products consistent with the expectation of cruiseshippers.
SLCA and member ports of call take sustainable development to heart and have drawn up the following series of guidelines:
- Inclusion of the principles of sustainable development is to play a role in obtaining government funding.
- Ports of call are encouraged to seek the advice from the Consultative Committee on Navigation in matters relating to sustainable development. This committee actively collaborates with the Shipping Federation of Canada.
- Cruise lines are invited to incorporate the best practices of and initiatives advocated by the Green Alliance. The latter was set up by associations representing shipping interests active on the Saint Lawrence and Great Lakes in both Canada and the United States. The Green Alliance ensures ship and terminal excellence in matters relating to environmental management, in particular the recycling of waste, the disposal of waste and ballast water, and the use of non-polluting technologies.
- Cruise lines are invited to source supplies locally, thereby generating spinoffs for SLCA member ports of call.
- Efforts to promote the Saint Lawrence are to focus on the river’s heritage value.
The Saint Lawrence ports of call are well aware of the importance of preserving the local environment when developing new port welcoming facilities. Hence special attention is consistently devoted to ensure that development is undertaken in cooperation with local communities. Improvement projects of the like contribute handsomely to the overall development of the regional tourism supply and expansion of cruiseship-related operations.
Recently, authorities in the Gaspé region announced the setup of a policy framework for sustainable tourism. The region is the first in Québec to adopt a region-specific policy, a move that will doubtless spur other regions to take similar action.
SLCA is justifiably proud to be a part of this sustainable development initiative and eager to share the wealth of destination Saint Lawrence attributes with international cruiseshippers, while ensuring that these attributes are preserved for future generations.
Source: Strategy for the Sustainable Development and Promotion of International Cruiseshipping on the Saint Lawrence River – Québec Ministry of Tourism.