Every year the cruise ship industry creates hundreds of jobs in Victoria. Don Denton/VICTORIA NEWS

Every year the cruise ship industry creates hundreds of jobs in Victoria. Don Denton/VICTORIA NEWS

COVID-19: B.C. fears Alaska bid to have cruise ships skip Canadian stops

Victoria, Prince Rupert, Vancouver tourism risks losing out

Alaska’s effort to allow international cruise ships to bypass B.C. ports on the way from Seattle to Ketchikan has B.C. worried about losing its main cruise tourism, even after international travel emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With all adults now able to get COVID-19 vaccines in her state, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is attempting to save her state’s 2021 cruise ship season with a bill to suspend 19th century U.S. legislation requiring foreign-flagged passenger vessels to stop in another country between American ports. Her bill is in response to Canada’s decision to ban cruise ships until March 2022, or until the Canadian government allows them to dock.

Opposition critics called on B.C. Premier John Horgan Tuesday to say what his government will do to save the cruise ship industry in B.C. from losing its core business, led by European cruise lines.

“Tourism operators are hanging on by their fingernails already and desperately looking forward to better days ahead,” Abbotsford West B.C. Liberal MLA Mike de Jong told the B.C. legislature March 23. “Those better days are now facing an entirely new challenge. What assurance has the Premier received from Alaska – Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who’s sponsoring the legislation in Congress – that rule changes allowing cruise ships to entirely bypass B.C. ports will not become permanent?”

Tourism Minister Melanie Mark said the issue is in the hands of the federal government, and the province is working with Ottawa on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and reopening borders.

“The member opposite knows full well that they have made the decision about the cruise ships,” Mark said. “The premier and our government will do the advocacy with the federal government to advocate that the borders are open. We are on the best coast. We’re on the west coast.”

B.C. Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone said the B.C. cruise ship industry employed 20,000 people before the pandemic, and a large cruise ship stopping in Vancouver represents $3 million in economic activity.

Murkowski’s bill calls on the U.S. government to temporarily “alleviate” the provision of the Passenger Vessel Services Act requiring a stop in B.C. for the popular Alaska cruises. It was passed in 1886 to protect U.S. shipping interests from foreign competition.

“Canada’s recent decision to prohibit Alaska-bound cruise ships from operating in Canadian waters creates legal hurdles that will hamstring the Alaska cruise season, creating additional economic strain on Alaska’s entire economy, especially in our southeast communities,” Murkowski said in a statement announcing the legislation. It follows a letter she wrote to to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February, urging Canada to work with Alaska to preserve the industry.

RELATED: ‘Welcome to Victoria’ visitor garden a casualty of COVID-19

RELATED: B.C. harbours see thousands of visitors abruptly stopped


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Delta character - and former White Rock resident - Pansy May Stuttard inspects a loaded revolver in the cover photo for Jim Dwight and Gary Cullen’s fascinating biography, Lord don’t want me Devil won’t take me. Contributed photo
West Coast’s ‘Pistol-packin’ Pansy’ lives on in colourful biography

Infamous Delta character ended her days in White Rock and South Surrey

A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Reports of student attendance ‘dwindling’ at Surrey schools: teachers’ association

STA president said he’s heard from staff that students might not attend in-person for 4th quarter

(Photo: MOSAIC/Facebook)
Organization receives $10K from B.C. government to tackle racism in Surrey, White Rock

Funding to go toward forum for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

A police officer aims a radar gun at oncoming traffic during a school-zone speed trap traffic blitz outside Peace Arch Elementary in 2017. (File photo)
White Rock council heeds residents’ plea for better speed signage

Roper Avenue concerns note proximity of two elementary schools

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read