Saint John Port studies cruise ship industry expansion

The Department of Tourism is spending $50,000 to assist in a study that will look at the possibility of the Port of Saint John become a "home port" in the future.

Province paying $50,000 to study 'home port' designation

The provincial government is investing $50,000 into a new study to look at whether Saint John should become a "home port."

The provincial government is investing $50,000 into a feasibility study that will examine the possibility of the Port of Saint John becoming a "home port" for cruise ships in the future.

The cruise ship industry has become an important economic generator for the city and the new study will study the options of expanding the industry.

Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Trevor Holder announced the provincial funding on Monday.

"While it is wonderful to have ships visit the Port of Saint John, if it was to become a home port we would be taking this industry to the next level," Holder said in a statement.

"I am eager to see whether it is possible to capture an even greater share of this business in the years to come."

A home port designation would allow cruise ships to start and end their trips in Saint John.

Cruise passengers would likely fly into the city in advance of their trips and then end their vacation in Saint John.

Miami, for example, is designated as a home port.

The greater Saint John region reaps an estimated $15 million in economic spinoffs in 2012, according to the provincial government.

A total of 74 ships visited Saint John and brought roughly 190,000 visitors to the city.

Holder said the provincial government needs to "capitalize on every possibility to grow industries," such as the cruise ship sector.

Stephen Campbell, the chairperson for the Saint John Port Authority, said the feasibility study will be important to help the sector expand.

"Cruise tourism business is extremely important to New Brunswick and we are pleased today to learn that the province of New Brunswick is investing in a study to examine the future opportunities for expanding the cruise industry as a contributor to tourism in the Bay of Fundy region," Campbell said in a statement.