Looming threat facing P.E.I. tourism

Nigel Armstrong
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Three cruise ships stopped by Charlottetown on Oct. 9: The Norwegian Dawn, The Emerald Princess and The Brilliance of the Seas.

Cruise ship visits to Charlottetown will take a jump next year but look out for 2015 when environmental laws ramp up in North America, a meeting was told Tuesday.

The Charlottetown Downtown Residents Association invited the Charlottetown Harbour Authority Inc. to make a presentation about the seaport's activity.

"Cruising is one of the strongest growing tourism industries in the world," said Corryn Morrissey, marketing and communications manager for the authority.

She said P.E.I. is part of a regional niche market but there is a slight change in that view within the industry. The result is larger ships stopping in to Charlottetown.

This year there were 57 cruise visits scheduled, 15 more than last  year and that includes nine ships that had never been here before. Weather problems resulted in some cancellations so there were a total of some 70,000 visitors from 51 ships in port over the season, 70 percent of them in the fall.

Morrissey said that ports in the region are working together with cruise lines to encourage more visits during the summer. They hope Disney Lines may come here but already Holland America has confirmed some mid-summer sailings next season, doubling their Charlottetown visits.

"Next year we are looking to see up to just over 70," said Morrissey of the total cruise stops in Charlottetown.

They hope for about the same number in 2014 but then the big threat to the industry hits in 2015.

"The major threat for us is ECA, the Emissions Control Area," said Morrissey.

It demands that within 200 nautical miles of the coast, ships must burn low-sulphur fuel or cut sulphur emissions drastically by 2015.

"This is not in place globally and the fuel is not that easy to get and it's very expensive," said Morrissey.

She said that it does not take much for a cruise line to abandon a port or a route, perhaps to destinations where the emission rules do not apply.

A lot of research and lobbying is being thrown at the issue, said Morrissey.

Some efforts are being made at exhaust scrubbing, some organizations are taking the legislation to court, others are trying to negotiate a middle ground, such as using different fuels depending on the distance from shore, or modifying existing bunker-fuel engines to cope with the lighter, low-sulphur fuels.

Another concern is support on P.E.I. for cruise passengers. There needs to be attractions open in the fall for them to attend, enough buses to get them around in good time, and space for the ships to quickly discharge and then reassemble passengers.

Les Parsons, chief executive officer of the authority said that studies and discussions with the industry revealed that cruise lines don't care what the port looks like, only that it is efficient at moving passengers quickly in and out.

"They told us, 'don't spend millions of dollars making it look pretty. We don't want them sitting around your building all day,' " said Parsons. "Really."

Charlottetown has a high approval rating in the industry, said Morrissey.

Members of the public at the presentation asked about water supply.

"The average ship this year took on 324 cubic meters (of water)," said Parsons. "We do sell it to them."


Organizations: Tuesday.The Charlottetown Downtown Residents Association, Charlottetown Harbour Authority

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown, North America Emissions Control Area Charlottetown.They

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Recent comments

  • John Getson
    November 22, 2012 - 15:46

    Why are we even discussing the fact that starting in 2015, environmental laws ramping up in North America might impact the number of cruise ships visiting PEI? Is setting PEI as an environmental law free zone an option? That is the only possible way that the PEI government will mitigate the economic downside. As to the complaints that businesses were not open when cruise ships visited Charlottetown during what has traditionally been the off-season. Maybe if sufficient Islanders had more disposable income that would allow them to increase their spending at those local stores and restaurants, then the business owners would consider staffing farther into a usually very slow time of year.

  • Garth Staples
    November 21, 2012 - 13:59

    The efficiency of the cruiseship dollar is highly overated except for a few who REALLY benefit. The auto still remains the only efficient dollar to go after. The cost of free water negates any overall benefit to the PROVINCE.

  • It's gonna take work folks . . .
    November 21, 2012 - 12:02

    The only way environment will trump commerce is if capitalism is allowed to trump corporatism. Capitalism responds to the market, corporatism suckles off the public purse. If Islanders want clean air, water to drink and tourism dollars to support services, we have a responsibility to make our politicians understand what that looks like. If we don't take on that responsibility, corporations (especially on PEI) will continue to be driven by our tax dollars. If the government is the default source of funding, there is very little need for corporations to respond to the market or the electorate. Look at the Plan B pavement scam or the Holman Hotel or even today's news flash that the Provincial cabinet has approved $5.5 million or our borrowed dollars in funding for Maritime Electric. If we want cruse ships to operate here without doing damage to "here" we have to let our MLA's know that's the case! Otherwise, our MLA's (as all evidence shows) will indirectly or directly support the corporations that operate here, that's what Mr. Ghiz et al calls "commerce". If we don't want to be planb'd in the back of the head again, we owe it to our MLA's and ourselves to be proactive. Unless the people who are supposed to represent us know our values - are directly told our values - how are they to represent those values? Islander have to grow up, it's time to be represented, not parented. And that takes work . . .

  • hello
    November 21, 2012 - 11:34

    i thought i heard human waste dumping was a concern in Halifax harbour this year.

  • rufus
    November 21, 2012 - 11:22

    well this little revelation should put a cabosh to the demand last week by tour operators that we enhance the entrance with a gazeboo, wrougt iron fences etc. It also should put a cabosh to Eddie Rices demand that we get water meters and pay through the nose for our own water, - while he sells it out the back door to the cruise ships---- and tell us it is none of our business no less, -- way to go Eddie, you just blew your chances of becoming mayor next time --- or may be even get re- elected.

  • shut off the drinking water fillups
    November 21, 2012 - 11:22

    Not one drop of our drinking water supply should be going to these ships. Not one drop.

  • hee bee
    November 21, 2012 - 11:17

    Just looking for numbers to see how much of the polluting cruise ship industry benefited local businesses? Did their visit impact our local economy negatively or positively? I wonder how long it will take before Charlottetown runs out of fresh drinking water? Now that would be journalism.

  • alvina
    November 21, 2012 - 10:49


  • ML
    November 21, 2012 - 09:55

    Just wondering how those business owners will feel if the ships stop coming into Charlottetown harbour and the cruise clients spend their money elsewhere. I know many businesses are making huge profits from the cruise industry during the summer/fall months so if you have lineups for your toilets be happy as you have a customer in your door. Attitude goes a long way!

  • JonJon
    November 21, 2012 - 09:31

    Tourism is a huge boost to PEI, and yes there are item that need to be addressed. Enviromental issues, water etc.when these ships come to port. But also look at the entire picture people. We were in PEI this fall , beginning of October I believe it was Oct. 9 when there were three ships in port that day and at least one or two ships ebery day of the same week. So October 9 there wer probably at least 10,000 peopli on PEI , passengers and crew. These people had money to spend. Do you realize how many businesses were not open or were closed already for the season ??!! We had people from the ship ask us down at Peakes Quay if we knew a place to get a coffee ? ! Really !? It must be nice for these business owners, they have so much money they can choose when to close there business down for the season and not care about the tourists. Don't think they will be coming back on a second trip or recommending PEI as a stop on their cruises to other people. Or they al east will mention how much was closed up. Quick your belly aching and start making a plan to open more businesses when these ships are in port in the Fall. 70 % of your ship cruises are in the fall and you peopl chosse to board everything up ??? Don't understand the thinking.

  • fromaway
    November 21, 2012 - 08:27

    Hey I certainly hope that we are able to keep the cruise ships coming every year. With the tourism dollars falling summer after summer, this is an asset to not only the City of Charlottetown, but the entire Island.

  • JS
    November 21, 2012 - 07:03

    324,000 litres x 51 ships = 16.5 million litres. No wonder we're running out of water

  • about time
    November 21, 2012 - 06:55

    It's about time that they cleaned up the emissions from the cruise ships. I live in Stratford and I can't tell you how many times it pi$$ed me off in recent years seeing these behemoths sitting there in the harbour spewing black smoke all day long, watching that smoke drift up the Hillsborough valley to the east. If I am only allowed to buy gas that has ethanol in it for my car and the government is telling me to use propane or electricity to heat my house, then surely these cruise ships should be forced to burn low sulphur diesel? Only makes sense to me. Too bad Charlottetown Harbour Authority - your little politically appointed fiefdom should fold soon, I hope.

  • tim tonkin
    November 21, 2012 - 06:50

    So the average ship took 324,000 liters of water that is about 77,000 Imperial gallons of water. That will dry up the old Winter River in a heartbeat .

  • just thinking
    November 21, 2012 - 06:28

    Maybe we can get David Suzuki to paddle the cruise ships and then they won't use any fuel.

  • concerned fisherman
    November 21, 2012 - 06:23

    Just wondering how the waste was hauled away and where it went off these 51 cruse ships . I know there is alot off it dumped in Northumberland Strait just before it gets to port but would be real interested in knowing if they all dump before they get in to port.How would I find this out Mr Lee. MAYOR

  • Robot Gizz
    November 21, 2012 - 06:19

    "This fuel is not easy to get and is expensive"! Come on, Irvings have bragged how their refineary was one of the few that was producing this low sulfur fuel/and good for them/ I'm sure they would sell a load or two if they were payed fairly .And as far as expensive goes,SO WHAT. My home and auto fuels are expensive too but you don't see Government caring about that now do you.These cruises are just the rich flaunting their money.FINE pay up or stay home.Either way the Island will still be here for the ones that love it "Year Round".

  • vick
    November 21, 2012 - 05:31

    This is why the tree huggers need to go! We are sending more jobs to China and Mexico while starving our own society! The more BS environmental laws we put in place in this country the less business's and industry that will do business here! NDP or Green party ever got in power Federally this country would see alot worse then what happen in the USA and Europe!

    • vicky
      November 21, 2012 - 11:09

      No.... you're mistaken my friend. That is why idiots like you have to go. You're going extinct Vick. See ya!

  • Sighs
    November 21, 2012 - 00:17

    Good I hate not being able to see the charlottetown Skyline from Stratford when these stinking boats are in! Good Riddance.. My bathroom at my store down town will get a break in the summer now!