As the fourth edition of the International Cruise Forum in Québec City closed, the Port of Québec, representatives of the tourism industry and the maritime community as well as various citizen groups reiterated their desire to work together towards the smart and sustainable development of the cruise industry. A hundred people, including many elected municipal officials, were in attendance at Pier 30 terminal for the event, which led to the consolidation of Québec City’s unique model as a responsible destination for international cruises.
“We have developed a unique model in Québec City since the first Forum in 2014. It relies on the consultation of partners and community participation. The partners involved since the beginning include Québec City’s administration and Major Events Office, Québec’s ministère du Tourisme, as well as citizen representatives, including the president of the Vieux-Québec–Cap-Blanc–Colline parlementaire neighbourhood council. We consult, we talk, and we arrive at solutions and objectives where everyone wins. This puts us at the forefront globally in the sustainable development of the cruise industry. It was at the 2014 Forum that we decided to limit the number of passengers to 15,000 per day, a first in the global cruise industry,” said Port of Québec President and CEO, Mario Girard.
“Over the years, the International Cruise Forum has become an annual event anticipated by all partners and stakeholders. It paves the way for the work accomplished, but above all for the vision we are collectively developing of the international cruise industry and its challenges. At Destination Québec cité, we believe that it is with an integrated approach between tourism development, in a responsible way, and the community that we will generate economic prosperity and sustainable benefits for everyone. One thing is sure: together, we have the capacity to improve the quality of life of residents AND improve the visitor experience. We will achieve this by managing the tourist traffic in a balanced manner over the entire Québec City region, by developing the low seasons to reduce the pressure on the high season, and by increasing collaborative leadership through education and mobilization of the industry to achieve a common vision of the destination,” added Destination Québec cité Director, Robert Mercure.
Shore power supply
The Port of Québec used the event to announce a feasibility study on providing shore power supply for cruise ships. The study will evaluate project costs, technical feasibility, and its impact on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Talks are underway with suppliers and Hydro-Québec to determine energy needs such a project would require.
Currently, only 2% of all ports around the world, fewer than 30 in all, are equipped to provide electricity to docked ships. By greenlighting such a project, the Port of Québec would become a world leader in the industry’s decarbonization. The other ports in the Canada-New England route are also considering the initiative, which would make the cruise circuit among the greenest in the world.
“In the wake of the recent pandemic, many cruise lines proceeded with the large-scale electrification of their ships, which changed everything in just a couple of years. This has led us to seriously consider electrifying our wharves in the short term,” said Mario Girard. He noted that the Cruise Lines International Association has committed to all ships docking at an electrified dock be equipped to use it by 2035.
Many other commitments were announced or reiterated to ensure the cruise industry’s responsible development. They include:
- 15,000 visitor daily limit set by the Port
- No more than two simultaneous embarkation-disembarkations, barring exceptional situations
- Considerations underway to provide shore power supply to ships
- Organization of pre-season meetings with operational partners
- Collaboration with Québec City’s Major Events Office to avoid traffic issues on busy days
- Promotion of new itineraries and varied attractions to ensure proper dispersal of visitors
- Active promotion of local purchasing to maximize regional economic benefits
116 stopovers and 168,000 passengers expected in 2023
The Port of Québec also presented its projections for the next international cruise season. It expects about 116 ship stopovers in Québec City in 2023, carrying a total of 168,000 passengers. Cruise ship occupancy rates should continue to climb to pre-pandemic levels. A 90% occupancy rate is already anticipated for the last quarter of 2022, compared to 54% for the first quarter. The lifting of sanitary restrictions for most countries is helping with this recovery.
In 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, cruises provided Québec City with an estimated $106 million in economic benefits.