A modest increase in cruise-ship traffic will bring a major expense for the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority in 2018.
According to GVHA chief executive Ian Robertson, the authority will spend about $7 million for a new mooring dolphin to accommodate larger ships at Ogden Point during next year’s cruise-ship season.
The dolphin, a structure used to moor large ships, will be built in line with the existing dolphin at Pier B. It will initially serve the Norwegian Bliss, which is more than 1,000 feet long.
“Next year, we are expecting a modest increase in [cruise-ship passenger] numbers,” Robertson said. The forecast increase is due to the trend toward larger vessels with more passengers, rather than an increase in ship calls.
“We won’t see much growth during the regular season between May and September, but what we will see is growth in the shoulder season,” Robertson said. “With ships repositioning in and out of Alaska, that’s good news for Victoria … They often choose Victoria.”
The city welcomed a record 239 calls by cruise ships this year, with almost 600,000 passengers and more than 239,000 crew visiting the city between April and October. There were 224 calls to Victoria in 2016.
A GVHA study in 2016 suggested the economic impact of the cruise-ship industry was about $130 million annually in Victoria.
Robertson wants to increase that figure, and one of the steps is to establish Victoria as a home port for cruise ships.
The GVHA has a goal of having a small or mid-sized cruise ship call Victoria home by 2020.
Robertson said they are on track.
“We are moving the needle. There’s nothing I can comment on yet, but we’re making very good progress and there continues to be significant interest from the cruise lines,” he said. “We believe, with the infrastructure we have, we would support a home port for a cruise ship of the 750 to 1,100 passenger size.”
The GVHA estimates that as a home port to one or two smaller cruise lines, Victoria could attract pre- and post-cruise tourism business and provide provisioning that could be worth $2 million per ship per excursion.