February 25, 2011
Reaping the benefits of transformational investments!
The year 2008 undoubtedly ranked as a major turning point in the history of cruise market development in Québec with the announcement by Ministry of Tourism officials of the drawing up and adoption of the Strategy for the Sustainable Development and Promotion of International Cruiseshipping on the Saint Lawrence River. Along with the strategy came the promise of investment of the order of $52.5 million over five years. Inspired by provincial ministry action, Economic Development Canada did not hesitate to support the initiative with a budget envelope of $60 million, provided that the communities involved were prepared to commit the equivalent of a third of total government contributions—which is to say an amount of $43.5 million—to the development of international calibre port of call installations. Thanks to the aggregate investment of $156 million, major transformations are under way at ports of call along the Saint Lawrence.
Although the ports of Montréal and Québec have been welcoming cruiseshippers for over a century, the Saint Lawrence is a relatively new destination for cruise line operators. To attract greater numbers of cruiseshippers and develop a more comprehensive tourism supply, it was imperative to be able to offer a broader choice of international calibre ports of call to cruise lines. Major investment initiatives, two thirds of which have already been completed or are currently in progress, aim essentially to spur development at the following six ports of call: Saguenay, Baie-Comeau, Sept-Îles, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Gaspésie and Îles de la Madeleine. Given its geographic location, the port of call at Trois-Rivières lends a welcome boost to destination tourism supply on the expanse of river between Montréal and Québec. The port of Trois Rivières is, however, not eligible for government contributions to infrastructure development.
Invested with countless distinguishing attributes, destination Saint Lawrence offers up an inimitable blend of nature and culture: complex ecosystems, countryscapes sculpted by glaciers, parks aplenty, heritage routes, noteworthy towns and cities, French language and culture, First Nations influence, ecotourism activities and captivating excursions all backed by the signature tradition of hospitality upon which Québec has built its enviable reputation.
At the midway point in strategy implementation, we are pleased to note that 60% of investments have been completed or are under way. The face of the Saint Lawrence ports of call has been transformed as a result of the construction of new piers capable of accommodating larger ships and welcome pavilions where cruiseshippers will find a plethora of services designed to enhance their onshore experience. In addition, the various ports of call have adopted long term infrastructure development plans, the object being to ensure ongoing improvements to services provided cruiseshippers.
Readers will bear in mind that the novel investment strategy provided not only for the addition or upgrading of port of call infrastructure but also for the development and enhancement of tourist attractions and services, including destination promotion efforts intended to boost exposure.