Written for Daily Hive by Marsha Walden, President & CEO of Destination BC.
Last Friday, the Emerald Princess docked at the Port of Vancouver, marking the start of what is widely anticipated to be another record-setting cruise season.
In 2018, nearly 900,000 cruise passengers visited Vancouver, which has emerged as a key hub within the North American cruise network. It is the only homeport for cruises that travel the Inside Passage, which offers some of BC’s most speculator scenery, including glaciers, mountains, wildlife, and hundreds of kilometres of scenic coastlines. This year, more than one million cruise passengers are expected to arrive in Vancouver.
With close to 300 vessels scheduled to dock at Canada Place between now and October, cruise season always brings an energy and influx of people to downtown Vancouver. Victoria’s harbour will also come to life, as more than 260 vessels dock at the Odgen Point cruise terminal and visit our province’s capital this year.
Beyond the buzz and excitement, the start of the cruise season also triggers a boon for local businesses. Almost four and a half million international visitors arrived in British Columbia during cruise season last year (April – October 2018), a period which also marks the highest annual rates for airplane passenger arrivals, hotel occupancy rates, and restaurant receipts. According to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, each cruise ship stimulates close to $3 million of local economic activity.
In addition to serving as an economic driver, the cruise industry also acts as a tourism gateway to the rest of the province. Cruise passengers often extend their stay, visiting areas in the Okanagan, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and Northern BC. It’s an industry that introduces visitors to a variety of unique BC communities and experiences.
Tasked with marketing and supporting the development of our province’s tourism sector, Destination BC works with key partners to promote the growth of a variety of sectors, including the local cruise industry.
We recently worked with the Cruise Line Industry Association to secure Vancouver as the location for Cruise3sixty in 2020, the only official travel agent conference for the North American cruise industry. Destination BC is also a member of the Pacific Rim Cruise Association, along with Tourism Vancouver, Vancouver Airport Authority, and Vancouver Fraser Port Authority – organizations that have played a leading role in fostering the growth of a strong and sustainable cruise industry.
For example, the Emerald Princess is the first of more than 80 vessels this year that will connect to shore power, which enables cruise ships to draw on BC’s hydroelectric grid when docked at Canada Place. Over the past decade, this technology has kept more than 20,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions out of our local airshed. The port authority also operates a program that offers discounted harbour fees for cruise ships that voluntarily reduce emissions, underwater noise and other environmental impacts.
There is no doubt that BC is creating exceptional cruise experiences, and we will continue to work with industry partners to ensure the benefits are felt right across our province.