THE BC Liberals on Tuesday said that despite comments by Premier John Horgan that the likelihood of the bill being passed would be slim, B.C. is one step closer to losing its cruise ship industry after the U.S. Senate passed a bill allowing Alaska-bound cruise ships to bypass our province.
“The Premier’s job is to protect our cruise ship and tourism industry and advocate for it, but for months he sat and did nothing,” said Teresa Wat, MLA for Richmond North Centre and Opposition Critic for Tourism, Arts, and Culture. “Now, his lack of action is putting our industry at risk. What is to stop a temporary measure like this from becoming permanent, causing long-term impacts to the industry and the thousands of businesses it supports?”
After writing a letter to NDP Tourism Minister Melanie Mark on April 7, asking government to outline what steps it has taken to protect B.C.’s cruise ship industry, the minister responded with a letter stating she was “disappointed” in the Opposition’s approach and said, “the possibility of this legislation passing is very unlikely.” On May 13, the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act passed the U.S. Senate unanimously.
“We have raised the issue to the Premier since March, both in Question Period and through letters, and received nothing but dismissive responses,” said Wat. “Now this bill is one step closer to becoming a reality. If this bill doesn’t turn out to be temporary and remains in effect after the borders reopen, the fallout for B.C.’s tourism industry and economy would be devastating.”
The BC Liberals pointe out that the cruise ship industry brings an estimated $2.5 billion to British Columbia’s economy every year. Victoria lost an estimated $130 million in tourism revenue in the 2020 season, while the entire B.C. tourism industry lost $16.4 billion of an annual $20 billion in GDP. It is estimated that the industry supports 20,000 direct and indirect jobs.