VICTORIA -- The cruise-ship season in Canada is all but dead as Ottawa has extended a ban on ships in Canadian waters until the end of October.

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau says passenger ships with overnight accommodations for more than 100 passengers can't operate in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority says it was anticipating a suspended 2020 cruise season and supports the government's decision. The GVHA says it is looking forward to the return of cruise ships to Victoria in 2021.

"This forecasting led us to temporarily lay off 50 per cent of our staff, reduce expenses by close to half, determine deferrals for major capital projects, and increase our focus on additional business development opportunities at the terminal," the GVHA said in a statement Friday.

In March the government barred ships with more than 500 passengers until July 1 but Garneau is expanding that ban today.

He says he understands that this will have a big economic impact on the tourism industry and that the government is looking at what to do about that.

"Cruise represents 70 per cent of our annual revenues, which supports our operations across all properties," the GVHA said.

"Without cruise revenues in 2020, we will need to explore how we maintain these facilities for community use over the next several years. This will include further deferring capital projects and reducing maintenance and repairs, while not compromising safety.

In 2019, Victoria saw more than one million cruise ship passengers and crew members disembark over the course of more than 250 port stops. 

Garneau says smaller passenger ships are also banned from Arctic waters until Oct. 31 but after July 1 can operate elsewhere with the approval and guidelines of local health authorities.

With files from The Canadian Press