Ship sail

Environmental group report aims to sink Victoria’s cruise ship industry ahead of 2022 season

As Canada’s busiest port of call prepares for its first cruise season in two years, a new report aims to sink the industry by gouging holes in the economic importance of cruise ships in the Greater Victoria area.

“By any statistical measure, the economic benefits of non-cruise tourism in Victoria, British Columbia, dwarf the impacts of cruise-related tourism,” environmental advocacy organization Stand.earth said in a press release. .

The published report Stand.earthprepared by Responsible Travel Consulting, uses industry data from 2019 to show that average spending by cruise ship passengers ashore is relatively low at $87.36, while overnight visitors spend an average of $700, i.e. 7 times more.

“And it’s true,” said Barry Penner, Legal Counsel, Cruise Lines International Association. “Cruise passengers have never said they are the majority, they are just an important element.”

The report, however, goes on to conclude that as a result, the economic value of the cruise ship industry in Victoria is “exaggerated”.

Citing industry data from 2019 that shows cruise ship tourists brought in $137.1 million to the region, while overnight tourists brought in nearly 20 times as much, or nearly $3 billion in spending.

But after two years of little to no tourism due to the pandemic, cruise ship industry representatives like Penner say every little bit counts.

“One of the reasons people who stay overnight in Victoria end up spending more money is because of the cost of hotel accommodations,” Penner said. “Cruise ship passengers book shore excursions, whale watching, petty taxis, tours, they go to Butchart Gardens.

The report also describes Victoria as a stopover that cruises are forced to make, usually en route to other destinations like Alaska.

“The scope and scale of the activities that take place at the Victoria Cruise Terminal are largely subordinate to the United States, particularly the Seattle-based cruise ship industry,” the report said.

It’s something Penner agrees with, but says the report fails to mention that cruise passengers who drop into Victoria are also returning in large numbers.

“A significant number, sometimes a majority of those people who visit Victoria by accident, when they leave the cruise, they love it so much that they decide to take a follow-up trip specifically to get back to Victoria,” Penner said.

“Then they stay in the hotels and leave behind an even bigger sum.”

All things considered, the James Bay Neighborhood Association says the face value and limited economic impacts of the industry are important to consider, especially when faced with environmental concerns.

“That’s what we want in James Bay. We want a better quality of life, which really means we want the cruise industry to do no harm,” said Marg Gardiner, president of the James Bay Neighborhood Association.

With Gardiner repeating the association’s decade-long calls for a people-centric approach, with more enduring goals including the long call for staggered ship arrivals and departures for better traffic flow.

Victoria’s 2022 cruise season kicks off Saturday, April 9 with Holland America Koningsdam (which now reports no cases of COVID-19).

The Greater Victoria Harbor Authority and the Victoria Cruise Industry Alliance told CHEK News they were too busy preparing for the upcoming season and the first ship arriving on Saturday to comment.

Destination Greater Victoria and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps did not respond to CHEK News’ request for comment.

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