On a stopover in Saguenay on Thursday, Pascal Bérubé, Minister for Tourism for Quebec, announced an investment of $7.6 million to enhance and position the Saint Lawrence as a must see tourist destination for the cruise industry.

An amount of $5.9 million has been earmarked to ensure the continuation of the Cruise Strategy Assistance Program. This program allows Tourism Québec to prioritize support for tourism infrastructure initiatives in six ports of call which welcome international cruise ships: Baie-Comeau, Gaspé, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Magdalen Islands, Saguenay and Sept-Îles.

Under the Tourism Industry Development Program, additional financial assistance totaling $1.7 million has been granted Cruise the Saint Lawrence (CSL) to allow the latter to implement its action plan for 2013-2016. Assistance has been segmented as follows: $500,000 in 2013-2014, $600,000 in 2014-2015 and $625,000 in 2015-2016.

The cost of this plan which focuses on port of call support, solicitation of international cruise lines and assurance of quality services at destination amounts to $6 million in total.

These major investments are designed to complement the $63.7 million announced on October 17 by the minister within the context of the government's Putting Jobs First economic policy.

 Promotion of the Saint Lawrence was presented as a key factor for continued growth in Québec's tourism sector.

 "By international cruise destination standards, the Saint Lawrence is still young. Although the destination continues to gain in notoriety, the quality of the tourism experience must continue to progress given ongoing expansion in the world tourism industry and increasingly stiff competition. To foster growth in this industry, provide for sustainability over time and ensure that the considerable sums invested generate expected levels of profitably, it is imperative for the government to provide assistance to the various of ports of call. I am particularly proud to confirm to CSL increased financial support to be spread out over the coming three years. Action in this regard speaks to the confidence of Tourism Québec in a front-line partner dedicated to the success of tourism in Québec. CSL has proven a highly effective marketing lever in world circles, evidenced by international cruise shipping performance in our home market," stated Minister Bérubé.

CSL President Priscilla Nemey said: "These major financial contributions will enable CSL to sustain and consolidate current momentum, thereby allowing Destination Saint Lawrence to migrate from emerging mode to an all important growth mode."

The budget of $5.9 million will make it possible to support initiatives which combine to enhance the power of attraction of those communities having elected to invest in international cruise shipping as a means of diversifying their economies and creating jobs.

 This entire series of initiatives is in full keeping with the rollout of the 2012-2020 Tourism Industry Development Plan under which Tourism Québec has committed to assisting our international cruiseshipping ports of call in propelling Destination Saint Lawrence to the rank of must see tourism icon.

Broader trends for the destination as a whole indicate that industry’s performance in 2012 will be surpassed in 2013.