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Cruise company redirects Asia tour to Victoria due to COVID-19
VICTORIA -- Fears of how COVID-19 will impact Vancouver Island continues, but it could have a positive impact on the tourism industry.
Celebrity Cruises has decided to cancel some of their Asia routes and instead come to Victoria twice in April and May.
The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) says the additional sailings mean 8,000 to 9,000 more tourists than usual this summer.
“Ships are deploying earlier than normal from Asia over to the west coast to begin their Alaska cruise season,” said GVHA CEO Ian Robertson. “As a result of that, Victoria is going to see four additional calls.”
He said the added stops will bring a big boom to the food and beverage and retail industries in Victoria. The harbour authority is also predicting that 2020 will be a successful year for cruise tourism.
Jeff Bray, executive director for the Downtown Victoria Business Association, said while coronavirus is a very concerning issue, this is good news for Victoria.
“It will bring a huge positive boom … especially here in downtown,” said Bray.
However, some businesses in Victoria’s Chinatown have already been negatively affected by coronavirus fears.
“Chinese restaurants are being unfairly targeted and seeing a huge drop off in business,” said Bray.
Additionally, while Celebrity Cruises has added four more calls to the island, an increase in cruises does not necessarily mean a significant rise in visitors, according to the GVHA.
“The question will be how many passengers will be on those ships,” said Robertson. “I know the cruise lines will do everything they can to ensure those ships are full.”
Bray says that even if the ships aren’t filled to capacity, they will still provide a “net positive” for Victoria.
While more cruise lines may decide to drop anchor in Victoria this season, the GVHA is asking people to continue visiting local businesses, especially ones in Chinatown.