(Greater Victoria Harbour Authority)

It’s safe to say cruise ship season in Victoria, and across the country, is going to look a little bit different this year.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced Friday morning that the current Canadian cruise ship ban will be extended throughout the summer, meaning that ships with 100 or more passengers will be restricted from docking in Canada until at least October 31st.

This is an extension of Transport Canada’s initial ban, which was put in place back in March due to COVID-19 concerns.

At that time, the federal government barred ships with more than 500 passengers, and this was slated to last until July 1.

“Our Government continues to work with other levels of government, transportation industry stakeholders, and Indigenous peoples to re-examine measures and to ensure Canada’s transportation system remains safe and secure during this time,” said Minister Garneau.

“We are all in this together.”

Minister Garneau added that he understands that this will have a big economic impact on the tourism industry, and that the government is currently looking at possible options.

Cruise represents 70% of The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority’s revenues, according to a statement.

This includes operations across community amenities such as the Ogden Point Breakwater, Inner Harbour Lower Causeway, Ship Point, and Fisherman’s Wharf.

GVHA has already temporarily laid off 50 per cent of their staff, as they expected the ban to extend beyond the original July 1st end date.

“We support the decision by Transport Canada to suspend cruise for 2020,” the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority said in a release.

“We look forward to the return of cruise under enhanced health and safety measures during the 2021 season. Health and safety for the community are the top concern for our organization.”

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority had estimated that 300 cruise ships and 770,000 passengers would dock in Victoria between April and October this season.

According to the GVHA’s Chief Executive Officer Ian Robertson, the cruise industry is worth about $3 billion annually to Canada’s economy, with two-thirds of that generated on the West Coast.