Victoria cruise ship motion sparks concern from local businesses
The cruise ship industry is responsible for bringing more than half-a-million tourists to the island each year, and brings in 130 million dollars, annually. It's why local business owners are concerned about a motion from Victoria's mayor that suggests reigning in the growing industry until it can become more environmentally friendly.
"When a cruise ship hits, we have to budget to have higher sales," says General Manger of Milestones Inner Harbour, Pat Allabarton. "We actually change our business plan."
The money tourists spend during the ships' time in port helps support thousands of local businesses.
"Every year we find out how many ships are coming, and when there's an increase we know that's a positive thing," says Allabarton.
The new motion won't reduce the number of ships visiting Victoria, but the CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA), Ian Robertson, says it has the cruise industry concerned. Business owners are also questioning the idea and say while they agree the environment is important, limiting the potential of a port city is self-destructive.
"We would shoot ourselves in the foot without proper guidance," says Dockside Stores operations manager, Mark Hawgood. "It doesn’t make sense."
Destination Greater Victoria says local businesses don’t have a lot of extra income, which means they rely on scheduled cruise ship visits as steady income.
"I had two small businesses call me and ask for assistance because their financial institutions were threatening to pull away their credit facilities because of this announcement," says Tourism Victoria CEO Paul Nursey. "It's created so much instability."
Nursey hopes both council and the GVHA can find a solution that works for everyone.
"We need sustainable development," says Nursey. "I think the days that 'industry trumps the environment' are over. Businesses also need to be able to prepare for the short, medium and long term."
Cruise ships book two years in advance, which means ships won't be leaving Victoria, any time soon. IN the meantime, city council is scheduled to vote on the motion on Thursday.