'Victorians will see the impact' of lost revenue as cruise ban extended: GVHA
VICTORIA -- The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) says it supports the federal government’s decision to suspend cruise ship entry for another year, though it warns that lost revenue will have a noticeable impact on Victoria’s waterfront.
In a statement Thursday, the GVHA said that protecting the health of the community remained the harbour authority’s “top priority” as the federal government blocked cruise ship arrivals until Feb. 28, 2022.
“Cruise will resume when it is safe to do so, when border restrictions are removed, and when people may safely enjoy non-essential travel,” said the GVHA.
However, the not-for-profit organization also warned that Victorians may see changes to the Inner Harbour due to significantly diminished revenue.
The GVHA maintains several downtown landmarks, including the Ogden Point Breakwater, the Inner Harbour lower causeway, Ship Point, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Steamship Terminal and several Inner Harbour marinas.
With the loss of cruise ship revenue, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of the GVHA’s annual revenue – or more than $12.5 million in 2020 alone – some service and employment cuts have had to be made.
The GVHA notes that this year, the organization will be unable to plant and maintain the ‘Welcome to Victoria’ garden on the Lower Causeway near the legislature building.
“Victorians will see the impact of lost revenues across our properties,” said the harbour authority.
It adds that many jobs have had to be permanently cut, and that contracts with local businesses have had to be cancelled or reduced.
“We also know that the extension of this suspension will create a devastating impact on the dozens of local, small businesses that are involved with cruise in Victoria,” said the harbour authority.
“This further uncertainty will have a lasting impact on small businesses in Greater Victoria. We hope that many of these businesses will survive the coming months until the resumption of cruise is permitted.”
The GVHA says that further service cuts are possible and will be reviewed by harbour authority management if necessary.
Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has presented, the GVHA says it is committed to welcoming cruise passengers whenever it is safe to do so.
“We look forward to the safe resumption of cruise in the future, which will be a result of national efforts to reduce the impact of COVID-19 including increased health and safety measures, vaccinations, and continued personal layers of personal protection,” said the GVHA. “Our team will be ready to welcome passengers and crew when ships return to Victoria.”