With a favourable forecast for cruise business in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, Victoria is attracting more and more interest from cruise lines as both a port-of-call and a potential homeport.
A delegation hosted by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA), Tourism Victoria, and Victoria-based cruise partners have just returned from Seatrade Cruise Global in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the largest trade show for cruise in North America. They found a growing interest in Victoria as a destination with all the infrastructure and amenities important to international cruise lines.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who travelled to Seatrade in support of the delegation, was impressed by the economic possibilities in a growing cruise business. “The Harbour Authority, tourism and marine industry partners have done excellent work in building Victoria as a cruise destination,” she said. “The next step – and what I was really there to support – is for Victoria to become a home port; this presents an enormous economic opportunity.”
Mayor Helps’ presence at Seatrade gave a boost to Victoria’s profile at the conference. “It’s important for the cruise lines we do business with to see that the city is aligned, and welcoming to cruise,” says GVHA CEO Ian Robertson. “And for a city looking to grow and diversify in the near future, this is a great opportunity. Having the Mayor join our team made a big difference”.
For Seatrade, GVHA partnered with key business affiliates in tourism, transportation, and marine industry for a strong presence in Florida. Partners included Western Stevedoring, Tourism Victoria, Butchart Gardens, Seaspan, CVS Transportation, Envirosystems, King Brothers, Orca Spirit Adventures, LA Limousines, Clipper Vactions, Victoria Pedicabs, West Coast Agency, Phillips Brewing, Sea Cider, and Experience Victoria.
The Victoria delegation returned from Florida with almost twice the interest they expected from cruise lines looking for potential home porting opportunities. As Canada’s busiest cruise port-of-call (attracting an average 550,000 passengers per year), Victoria is well-positioned to become a home port as well. As a home port to one or two smaller or boutique cruise lines, Victoria will attract pre- and post-cruise tourism business as well as provisioning capacity estimated at $2 million per ship per excursion.
Growing interest in Victoria as a home port, and as a port-of-call, bolsters the proposed Ogden Point Master Plan, a proposal to redevelop and improve GVHA’s cruise terminal site which is now under discussion by City of Victoria planners in advance of a potential rezoning.