Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport, has announced an extension of measures pertaining to cruise ship operations in Canada. Accordingly, ships with overnight accommodations for more than 100 passengers are prohibited from operating in Canadian waters through to 28 February 2022. The announcement, the second in as many years, implies the cancellation of the 2021 season for Destination Saint Lawrence and significant economic impact for tourism industry stakeholders in our nine ports of call and surrounding regions. During this pause, Cruise the Saint Lawrence (CSL) will push forward with the development of a Health Safety Plan as well as a Sustainable Development Strategy to ensure that all sectoral players enjoy a safe, profitable and sustainable relaunch in 2022.
The outlook for the resumption of activities in 2022 appears positive, with 200 port bookings to date, representing an estimated 300 000 passenger-days for our member ports of call, significant economic benefits for the tourism industry as a whole, and 100 000 overnight stays for hotels in Québec and Montréal.
Traveller confidence in the cruise industry remains high. Sanitary measures introduced by cruise lines coupled with the screening and testing of all passengers have made a tangible impact. In Europe, 200 cruises have operated safely and securely since July 2020. A survey conducted by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) with target clients has revealed that 74% of cruise enthusiasts are ready to cruise again, and that 58% of international travellers never having been on a cruise are interested in booking one in the years ahead. Tony Boemi, President of Cruise the Saint Lawrence, believes that “the relaunch of the cruise industry in Québec is tied to the resumption of international travel and full-fledged recovery of tourism and recreational activities. Both are essential for guaranteeing port of call sustainability and ongoing regional economic diversity.”
In preparation for the return of cruise ships to our shores in 2022, Cruise the Saint Lawrence and member ports of call are working on instituting sanitary measures and procedures which will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Mr Boemi remains confident about sectoral recovery: “This latest pause will enable us to continue work on innovative passenger and ship greeting initiatives. In this regard, implementation of our Sustainable Development Strategy has begun. This strategy is designed to help us rethink how we do what we do, enhance our contribution to socioeconomic vitality in Québec and preserve local ecosystems. The strategy is available for viewing on the CSL website. René Trépanier, Executive Director of Cruise the Saint Lawrence, points up that “the Greeting Policy introduced and in place since 2013 allows CSL to manage greeting operations in a manner intended to preserve a workable footprint for our host communities and the environment by spreading passengers out in different ports of call. Port stopovers are subject to careful planning and attendant oversight which provide for the sound management of tourism activities.”
Cruise the Saint Lawrence, founded in 2000, groups together the nine Destination Saint Lawrence ports of call of Montréal, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Saguenay, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands. The mission of CSL is to grow cruise market activities in Québec and across Destination Canada New England through the provision of marketing and development services to members. Cruise the Saint Lawrence enjoys the support of partners Tourism Québec, Québec Tourism Industry Alliance and Industry, Science and Economic Development Canada.