There are a lot fewer cruise ships and Alaska-bound tourists visiting Vancouver this year
A few weeks ago Vancouver’s mayor flew out to New York for the latest in what seems like endless photo ops with the world’s big city mayors. Just prior to the Olympics, the paparazzi (otherwise known as his staff) snapped a few shots of Gregor Robertson and the Mayor of London holding the 2010 Games torch. His Worship's most recent trip to the big apple was ostensibly about attracting “green” jobs to Vancouver. If you recall, the Mayor made a commitment of creating 20,000 new enviro jobs in the city by 2020. So far the results of his efforts are best described as anemic.
What’s so frustrating about watching the Mayor jump aboard one carbon emitting plane after another in his quest to lure green companies to Vancouver, is the fact that he’s ignoring the jobs disappearing from his waterfront at home. For example, yesterday representatives from the tourism industry were out in full force reminding the public that Vancouver’s cruise ship industry is in dire straights. There will be only 179 sailings this year compared to 256 last year. That's a significant drop of 30% in a relatively short period of time.
This loss of all these Alaska cruise ship passengers is a big blow to small businesses in the Vancouver area. Whether you’re a bus tour company, souvenir shop, restaurant, taxi driver etc...you will be impacted by this massive decline in tourist revenue. Meanwhile, our agri-mayor is busy building homeless shelters for chickens, installing beehives and vegetable gardens at the City Hall precinct.
What has Robertson done since we first alerted our readers to the warning bells coming out of the industry last year? Well, besides jet setting around the world in search of those elusive green jobs, he supported a proposal to increase Amtrak traffic between Seattle and Vancouver. While this is laudable, it will take a lot of Amtrak trains to make up for the loss of 300,000 passengers aboard luxury cruise liners. Clearly this mayor has to “kick it into gear” soon if Vancouver has any hope of maintaining Vancouver's position as the cruise ship hub of the west coast.
At a minimum, the mayor should be calling an urgent roundtable meeting with all the key stakeholders impacted by the decline in the cruise ship industry. He should then come up with a comprehensive strategy to help stop the bleeding and begin to reverse this trend for 2011. Perhaps a trip to Miami (where most of the cruise ship HQs are located) would have been more fruitful than a trip to New York. Opening up an immediate dialogue with cruise ship executives and letting them know you are interested in fighting to retain those jobs is a good first step.
Few will argue that trying to create new "green" jobs in our economy is a bad thing. However, to use a term that our agri-mayor will understand “a chicken in the hand is worth six in the bush”. The mayor better move quick to come up with a strategy to keep those tourism-related jobs, otherwise his schemes will have little or no net impact on our local economy.