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First cruise ship in more than two years arrives in Vancouver to fanfare (PHOTOS)

"This is a huge day for the travel and tourism sector."

After two years without a cruise ship tying up, the Port of Vancouver welcomed the Koningsdam on April 10, 2022.

Politicians and industry representatives took the giant ship's arrival (it's 975 feet long and carries 2,650 passengers with 1,036 crew) as an opportunity to share their excitement that the huge economic driver was returning to port.

"This is also an exciting time for our economy; the cruise ship industry brings in more than $4 billion each year and generates approx 30,000 jobs for Canadians," Federal Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra told the crowd

How that looks at the end of the 2022 season is uncertain, but Alghabra is expecting big things.

"We're expecting this year's cruise season to be the biggest ever," he said. "We expect over 300 calls, a record number of vessels, at Canada Place alone."

Royce Chwin, CEO of Destination Vancouver said locally the tourism sector has been drastically impacted by the pandemic.

"The visitor economy was the first and hardest hit and will be the longest to recover," he explained. "Here in Vancouver in 2019 it was over $14 billion. In the last couple of years, it was decimated to just over $5 billion annually. So we've got significant ground to rebuild and cruise a really important part of that."

To that end, there'll be an 8 per cent increase in the cruise ship activity in Vancouver, if all goes as scheduled. Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America Line, noted that cruise line alone expects to bring in $76 million in economic activity with five ships bringing more than 140,000 guests. The Koningsdam alone holds more than 2,600 passengers and will be visiting Vancouver several times this season.

Alghabra and Melanie Mark, the provincial minister of tourism, noted environment was an important aspect to the restart of the cruise industry in Canada. Through 2022 it's expected 60 per cent of ships will use shore power while docked in Vancouver.

Alghabra and Antorcha both spoke about COVID-19 protocols, noting that much had been done to prepare for regulations and plans as the cruise industry brings thousands into Vancouver. Antorcha said Holland America had already been operating safely in the Caribbean for months.