The region of Quebec will be deprived of 210 million $ in direct economic benefits in 2020, with the ban on the movement of cruise ships in Canada until October 31.
“This is not a surprise for us. We knew that it was to be done.” The president and ceo of the Port of Québec, Mario Girard, is here reacting Friday to the announcement made a little earlier by the federal minister of Transport, Marc Garneau.
The cruises referred to are those “offering lodging and authorized to carry more than 100 persons”. This new addition to a series of other, which was a blow to the tourist economy of the city of Quebec and the surrounding area.
“It is a disappointment, not so much for the Port as for the shops that benefit. It embodies the loss of tourism. Everyone is already so touched”, laments Mr. Girard.
The Port of Quebec had yet experienced in the year 2019, a record year of ridership with the berthing of 150 ships, carrying 236 000 visitors. For the city, this industry has become a windfall over the years. In 2018, the increase in the number of passengers was 15 %.
In march, the federal government had already banned the docking of large cruise ships until 1 July. The Port of Quebec was then canceled visits to 18 buildings and their approximately 30,000 passengers.
Previously, Mr. Girard, kept confidence that he can save the season, the fact that 75 % of the approximately 150 buildings expected to arrive in September and October. The minister’s announcement Garneau destroys this hope.
“A step back”
In the long term, the pandemic is hampering the ambitions of the Port of Quebec. His development plan is planned to accommodate up to 500,000 visitors by the year 2025. “This is a big step back, but I think that the industry will bounce back. The Port is well-placed with cruise lines when will come the time to choose destinations that are safe.
There will be more cruises like before, the ceo adds. The boats will be possibly more filled up to the maximum of their ability. And all the world will have to adapt its operational logistics to comply with the rules of distancing. The industry is already working on it.”
The port authority still plans to build a second cruise terminal near the silos of the Bunge at a cost of $ 30 million. The building was to be ready in the fall to accommodate even more cruise passengers. It will be rather next year.
Despite the situation, Mr. Girard considers that this investment is still worth the cost. According to him, it can only improve the position of the Port of Quebec in relation to its competitors.
“It is wonderful to think that there will be two terminals to accommodate passengers in a more secure environment for social distancing,” he concludes.
The nine ports affected
The president of the Association des croisières du Saint-Laurent, Tony Boemi, indicates that nine ports of call and destination of the St. Lawrence river are affected. “The season 2020 was announced to be the most important of the last ten years. Many tourism businesses have developed over the years around and with the cruise ship industry, creating thousands of jobs and providing a significant economic contribution to cities and regions. We call on the government to help them through this crisis.”
For 2020, the bookings of the vessels accounted for 560 days at the dock and a total of 567, 000 days-passengers to accommodate in the nine stopovers of the Saint Lawrence river: Montréal, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Saguenay, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands.
The economic impact of international cruises at the Quebec would have represented $ 1 billion in direct economic impact, indirect and induced, and 7,000 direct and indirect jobs.