U.S. bill would allow cruise ships to bypass ports in British Columbia

0
13
U.S. bill would allow cruise ships to bypass ports in British Columbia


The federal government has banned cruise ships from docking at Canadian ports until February 28, 2022

Content of the article

VICTORIA – British Columbia’s tourism industry is concerned about a bill before the U.S. Senate that, if passed, would see cruise ships bypass Canadian ports and travel directly between Seattle and the Alaska and have a devastating long-term impact on an already struggling industry.

Earlier this month, Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act, which would temporarily exempt cruise ships from existing regulations that require ships to stop in a foreign country. In British Columbia, cruise ships en route to Alaska typically stop in Vancouver, Victoria or Prince Rupert.

While the proposed measures are supposed to be a temporary measure to save the tourist economy of Alaska, which relies heavily on cruise ship passengers, the B.C. Liberals have said the provincial government must ask Murkowski to ensure that the law does not become permanent.

Publicity

This ad is not yet loaded, but your article continues below.

Content of the article

Mike de Jong, Liberal MP for Abbotsford West, told Question Period on Tuesday that struggling tourism operators feared the new law would cost them “hundreds of millions of dollars every year on a permanent basis.” Prime Minister John Horgan must get assurances from U.S. lawmakers that the measures will not be long-term, de Jong said, otherwise there is a risk that when the Canada-U.S. Border reopens cruise ships will continue to bypass British Columbia.

The federal government has banned cruise ships from docking at Canadian ports until at least February 28, 2022. However, the hard-hit cruise ship industry is hoping to get the green light from the state Centers for Disease Control. -United to start working long before. , especially since President Joe Biden has set a goal for all Americans who want the COVID-19 vaccine to get it by the end of May.

Walt Judas, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia, said if Murkowski’s bill passes, there is legitimate concern that the measures will be made permanent. The bill would seek an exemption from the US Passenger Ship Services Act, which requires all non-US flagged ships, including most cruise ships, to stop at a foreign port before arriving. in Alaska.

“We think this could be the start of a lobby that is growing south of the border to permanently eliminate the law, allowing cruise ships to sail from Seattle directly to Alaska,” Judas said. “This would obviously be very damaging to the cruise ship industry and, by extension, to the entire tourism industry. It could be the start of something that could continue into the future and lead to even more carnage than we are already experiencing.

Publicity

This ad is not yet loaded, but your article continues below.

Content of the article

The cruise ship industry contributed an estimated $ 2.7 billion to British Columbia’s economy annually before the pandemic. Each cruise ship that docked in Vancouver was worth about $ 3 million in spending on the local economy, according to the Port of Vancouver.

Donna Spalding, government affairs and community relations consultant for the Northwest and Canada division of Cruise Lines International Association, said the bill was a temporary response “to a pandemic that we all hope will eventually go away.” .

Spalding, whose division includes Washington state, British Columbia and Alaska, said the cruise ship industry was unwilling to see the measures made permanent. She said BC port cities like Vancouver and Victoria remain desirable stops for travelers. She said the bill aims to support Alaska’s economy, which relies on cruise ships and the tourism industry for 60% of its annual revenue.

Spalding said the Canadian government and provincial health authorities must work with the cruise ship industry to develop a plan for when ships can once again dock in Canada with stringent COVID security protocols. She noted that commercial planes continue to fly to and from Canada under strict security measures.

Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sports for British Columbia, said the federal government is responsible for Canada’s borders and therefore British Columbia has no say to say about US law.

“We are working with the federal government to advocate for a strong return to cruise ships and other industries where it is safe to do so,” Mark said during question period. Mark said the province is focused on the rollout of immunization and the safety of residents of British Columbia. “When it is safe, we will open the international borders. But that’s not up to me, and (de Jong) knows it.

Publicity

This ad is not yet loaded, but your article continues below.

Content of the article

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said: “This matter is entirely within the purview of the federal government and we have seen no signs that this temporary measure will extend beyond our own pandemic restrictions. It is fallacious to suggest otherwise. ”

Judas said he wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several cabinet ministers asking them to rethink the February 2022 cruise ship ban and apply the restrictions in three-month increments instead. He said if vaccinations accelerate in the United States and Canada, there is a chance that British Columbia will still have a partial cruise season this year.

Port of Vancouver spokesperson Danielle Jang said the port “is working with our travel destination partners to develop a framework for a future phased restart of the Vancouver-Alaska cruise. When the time comes, we look forward to welcoming cruise lines from British Columbia, Canada and around the world. ”

[email protected]

Twitter.com/katiederosayyj



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here