The US has introduced new legislation, the Cruising for Alaska’s Workforce Act, to provide a permanent exemption from the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) for cruises transporting passengers to Alaska from any US port.
The proposed legislation introduced to Congress on September 23 would apply to cruise ships travelling between Washington state and Alaska and gives them the green light to sail past BC ports without stopping. The amendment is a response to Canada’s ban on cruise ships through February 2022 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
However, given the estimated $2.7 billion impact of the cruise industry on BC’s economy, this is going to have significant economic consequences. The cruise industry’s direct and indirect impacts in Canada totalled more than $4.2 billion in 2019, according to a tally by industry group Cruise Lines International Association. The Port of Vancouver says the city welcomed more than a million cruise passengers in 2019. There were 288 cruise ship arrivals, bringing 22% more passengers than the previous year. On average, each new arrival stimulates about $3 million in direct local economic activity.
“This news comes as a devastating blow to the tourism and hospitality industry and related industries and workforces,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “Though it may not seem readily apparent, Surrey’s population works in the cruise ship industry and in supporting tourism and hospitality sectors throughout Metro Vancouver. This legislation requires immediate action by the Canadian and Provincial Governments. We need to open our border to allow cruise ships to dock in our ports by putting COVID health and safety protocols in place.”
“The Surrey Board of Trade has been in conversations with tourism and hospitality organizations, including Destination BC, on issues related to the closure of our ports to cruises and the knock-on economic impacts this has caused. We have opened our land borders to fully vaccinated foreign travellers, we have opened air travel from previously restricted countries, but we keep our ports closed when there is a science-backed process to ensure that our population is protected. Government needs to act now.”
The Surrey Board of Trade will be issuing formal letters to Federal and Provincial officials on this issue.
Anita Huberman, 604-634-0342, firstname.lastname@example.org