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April 28, 2006

International cruises: Growing demand for the Saint Lawrence

Québec, April 28, 2006 - The international cruise industry is continuing its sustained growth on a global scale.  This year, for the first time, demand will exceed supply and, in response to this trend, cruise lines have several new vessels under construction.  Major destinations such as Alaska, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean are always very popular, but cruise passengers are looking for something new such as the Saint Lawrence, which offers obvious attractions and great potential for development.

In North America, passenger volumes are growing constantly at an average annual rate of 8%.  In 2005, ports of call like Montreal (35,000 passengers) and Quebec City (66,000 passengers) as a whole welcomed record numbers of cruise-ship tourists.  A survey conducted in 2003 by BREA for the Saint Lawrence Cruise Association shows that each passenger generates an average of $143 in direct economic spin-offs in Quebec, and this does not include crewmembers, who also inject an average of $99 in purchases of souvenirs, meals or land-based activities.  Total economic spin-offs in a single year are of the order of $22 million, to which must be added $50 million in spending by the cruise lines for direct services.

The 2006 season will start on the Saint Lawrence in mid-May with the arrival of Holland-America’s MAASDAM, which has a capacity of 1,266 passengers.  The people living along the Saint Lawrence will be able to admire these huge vessels as they sail by until late October.  A hundred or so visits are scheduled for 2006, ten of them in September and October in the Saguenay, for the first time!  For several years now, vessels have travelled up the fjord but, following efforts to market the destination, some cruise lines will in future berth in Port Saguenay to give passengers an opportunity to get to know the area in land-based activities.  Baie-Comeau will also host its first cruise ship in late September.

The Saint Lawrence Cruise Association supports the development of new ports of call all along the banks of the Saint Lawrence.  To this end, its new members include Trois-Rivières, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre and the very tip of the Gaspé (Gaspé–Percé-Chandler), which will add diversity and quality to the cruise products currently offered in Quebec.  The SLCA’s major partners include the Department of Tourism and Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, with which three-year partnership agreements are in effect.

René Trépanier, Executive director
Telephone: 418 725 0135

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