International cruise ship calls at Canadian ports are generating new tourist visits and spending in Canada, according to a report by the Northwest and Canada Cruise Association (NWCCA).
“The cruise ship industry is growing and changing in different ways here in Canada,” says Greg Wirtz, president of the NWCCA.
Last year, 2.05 million cruise ship passenger visits at Canadian ports generated $1.16 billion in spending by the passengers and crew, as well as the cruise lines themselves.
These expenditures also led to spinoff activities for a combined impact of $2.38 billion to the Canadian economy in direct and indirect ways, the report finds.
The industry also generated over 17,000 jobs and a total of $780 million in wages and salaries.
Wirtz says the growth has been particularly visible in Vancouver, which is Canada’s largest cruise ship port, with over 666,000 cruise passengers in 2012. The figure accounts for one-third of cruise passenger traffic in the country.
All those passengers spend money, and they spend money ashore on a variety of things.
— Greg Wirtz, Northwest and Canada Cruise Association
With over 1.1 million passengers, ports in B.C. are the busiest in Canada thanks to the Alaska cruises that either originate from Vancouver or make stops at Victoria and other ports.
“All those passengers spend money, and they spend money ashore on a variety of things,” Wirtz says.
“In Vancouver, because it’s a home port, passengers stay before and after the cruise and spend money. So they travel to Vancouver to take the cruise, but often spend a lot of their time and money in Vancouver, in different places in B.C., on land-based extensions to their cruise.”
The reports notes that cruise ship visits and spending are also rising in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
The routes in the east originate in northeastern U.S. ports and span ports in Canada and New England. The routes in Quebec typically involve Montreal or Quebec City and a U.S. port, along with other port calls in Atlantic Canada.
According to the report, 643,000 cruise ship passengers visited Atlantic ports last year, and 230,000 visited Quebec ports.
Wirtz says while the Atlantic Canada market isn’t as mature as the B.C. cruise industry, it is the fastest-growing market in Canada.
Besides the higher number of tourists visiting Canadian ports, the increased per-passenger spending is also contributing to the rise of expenditure by the cruise industry in Canada. The average spend per passenger during onshore visits was $150 in 2012, and close to $70 for crew.
Wirtz says the majority of cruise ship passengers are American, estimating the breakdown to be 75 percent American, 15 percent Canadian, and 10 percent from other areas of the world in the B.C. market.
He estimates the breakdown to be similar in the Atlantic and Quebec market, but says the proportion of Canadians and international passengers are probably higher there.
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