Support better off closer to Alberni

In last Friday’s Alberni Valley News, an article appeared regarding this year’s scheduled visit of a Holland America ship. A source implied that a call to our harbour by the Statendam bringing more than 1,200 people would mean a $1,000,000 infusion to our economy, suggesting the potential economic benefit from this year’s visit could be similar to the visit in 2009.

Call me a skeptic, but I don’t see where a million-dollar benefit or a near total disembarkation of all passengers would have occurred within the eight (less two – remember the gangway incident?) hours of shore leave allotted.

Assuming 1,200 people even came ashore, applying some math reveals that each of them would have had to individually spend more than $830 while ashore for six hours to attain such an economic impact.

If this is the estimated amount of economic impact from the call of one cruise ship, then the economic impact from Port Alberni’s long established cruise company, Lady Rose Marine Services, is even greater.

Here’s why.

Annual cumulative passengers of LRM total more than 10 times the number of passengers that were aboard the Statendam. Further, all passengers of LRM arrive to and leave from Port Alberni by vehicle, meaning they are already ashore and able to spend, unlike visitors arriving on a cruise ship.

Visiting cruise ships provide their passengers with lodging and meals aboard. Customers of LRM buy their lodging and meals from other businesses within our community.

Visiting cruise ship companies don’t own property or have employees living and also owning property in the community, hence they pay no property tax.

Lady Rose Marine and its employees do.

And LRM passengers who seek lodging must also pay the local two per cent room tax, which was implemented to help fund promotion of local tourist attractions. A tax that cruise ship visitors do not pay.

I am in support of all tourism initiatives, including those of encouraging calls to our port by cruise ships.

However, in view of the economic impact, perhaps more could be done than has at times been done before by local officials and boards involved with tourism promotion, to acknowledge and support the cruise company at the Harbour Quay.

A company whose presence here and its business activities benefit much of the broader local economy.

Roland Smith is a former co-owner of Lady Rose Marine Services.