P.E.I. business owner concerned about cruise cancellations
Province estimates $1.6 million in lost revenue from cruise cancellations
The owner of a P.E.I. tourism business is worried cruise lines might skip Charlottetown altogether if speed restrictions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are implemented in the long term.
- 'It's an economic impact': 10 cruise visits to Charlottetown cancelled
- Likelihood of whales dying from ship collisions falls 70 per cent at lower speed
Last month, the federal government put restrictions on large vessels in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to help prevent further deaths of endangered right whale species.
Bill Kendrick, owner of Experience P.E.I., says he "absolutely agrees" with the efforts to protect the right whales, but he's concerned restrictions will damage the tourism industry.
"I also believe it's equally critical that we protect the whales and not destroy a very important industry that generates millions of dollars of revenue for Prince Edward Island," he said.
We have to find a way to protect the whales and protect the industry.- Bill Kendrick
Ten cruise ships have cancelled the P.E.I portion of their trips so far, which translates to roughly 8,000 fewer cruise passengers in Charlottetown, according to a port official.
Over the next two to three years, Kendrick said, it would be "a significant loss" to his company and others like it if there were a steady decline in cruise ship cancellations.
"We were poised to have the best year ever in Charlottetown," he said.
"This is a potentially serious loss to the Island if something is not done now, as soon as possible, to clear up the uncertainty about what's going to happen in the years going forward."
May deter other cruise lines
Kendrick said when cruise lines plan their voyages and decide which ports to visit, they may scratch Charlottetown from their itineraries because it will be too difficult to fit into their schedule at lower speeds.
"They are going to look at Charlottetown and say, 'Look, it's just too difficult to get to and from Charlottetown within the itinerary that we are creating. So we're just not going to go to Charlottetown.'"
He said he hopes provincial and federal governments meet and consider the tourism industry when making further decisions regarding ship speeds and right whales.
"We have to find a way to protect the whales and protect the industry."
Working on solution
Heath MacDonald, P.E.I.'s minister of Economic Development and Tourism, said he's not "ready to hit the panic button just yet."
He said he understands that it's tough for retailers, restaurants and travel tours and that the province will be working closely with the federal government to come up with a solution.
"It's something that can't be resolved overnight," he said. "We're all doing our due diligence on this issue."
MacDonald estimates that the cruise cancellations will amount to $1.6 million in lost revenue overall.
"There's a lot of things at play here, a lot of very concerned corporations, provinces," he said.
"This is not going to go away. What we have to do is voice our concern as much as possible with our federal counterparts."
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With files from Sarah MacMillan and Laura Chapin