Nfld. & Labrador

Cruise ship visits contribute less cash to St. John's than people think, study says

The cruise ship industry may not be bringing as many tourism dollars into port as once believed, according to a new study, but the City of St. John's is skeptical of the findings.

St. John's Mayor Danny Breen says city will conduct its own study to clarify numbers

Cruise ships, like this one seen in St. John's harbour in 2015, are not bringing as much money into the city as some say, according to a new Memorial University study. (Sobhana V)

The cruise ship industry may not be bringing as many tourism dollars into port as once believed, according to a new study, but the City of St. John's is skeptical of the findings.

Burc Kayahan, an economist at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, has been looking at cruise ship revenue in Atlantic Canada as part of an ongoing study partly funded by Memorial University of Newfoundland.

According to his findings, some of the numbers he's heard from cruise ship associations might be off.

Cruise ships typically visit St. John's harbour during the fall months. (Twitter/@JPsevenohnine)

Kayahan says the average passenger expenditure in St. John's is about $30, and for crew members it drops to $20.

That's less than half of numbers he's heard touted from cruise ship associations.

Different ships, different spending

There are many different types of cruise ships, and St. John's tends to get the smaller ones.

Kayahan said it's the mass-market passengers who spend money more than the luxury and what he calls "nature" cruises, such as the Adventure Canada and National Geographic vessels.

As St. John's typically gets cruise ships visiting during the fall months when those types of cruises are most popular, the city tends to get fewer mass-market passengers than many other ports.

Adventure and luxury cruise ships are the type most commonly visiting St. John's. (Submitted by Mandip Garcha )

Weather also affects their decision, according to the report, with passengers spending less on rainy days.

"St. John's, for example, for the cruise season we looked at, had relatively higher share of rainy days, which would explain some of the reasons why people spend a lot less in St. John's," he said.

City questions report

St. John's Mayor Danny Breen says he doesn't buy the findings of the cruise report, and questions the study's methodology.

He said he's convinced tourists spend much more than $30 while in port.

"One of the things we also have to look at is the impact on the taxi industry, the tourism industry and supplies that may be purchased in the city by the cruise ships," he said.​

Breen says the city will be doing its own study to get a better handle on how much it should spend on cruise ship tourism.

"I've wanted to have a good look at what exactly the economic impact is to the best that we can determine, and that's what our staff is completing for council now," he said.

With files from Sarah Smellie