Agnès Maltais, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, Minister for the Status of Women and Minister Responsible for the Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches Regions; Pascal Bérubé, Minister of Tourism; Régis Labeaume, Mayor of Quebec City; and Gabriel Savard, Director of the Quebec City Tourism Office (OTQ) are proud to announce that an agreement has been reached with Holland America Line.

This agreement will serve to significantly increase summer cruise ship traffic on the St. Lawrence River. Using the Veendam, the company plans to add at least eight turnaround operations  (embarking/disembarking) in Quebec City during the summer over a three-year period beginning in 2013.

The Veendam’s arrival will be highly strategic in terms of developing Quebec City’s cruise ship sector. The potential increase in passenger traffic (more than 20,000 extra visitors per year) is sure to have a major impact. In this regard, the agreement confirms that Holland America’s entire fleet will be redeployed on the St. Lawrence in 2013. A large-scale promotional campaign will also be undertaken with a view to positioning Quebec City and eight other St. Lawrence ports within the international cruise ship circuit.

Under the agreement, additional turnaround operations are also planned for the Port of Montreal, which will be welcoming the Maasdam in the months of July and August. In addition, the Seabourn Sojourn, operated by the Seabourn cruise line (a Holland America affiliate), will be operating three St. Lawrence turnaround cruises from Montreal. The Seabourn Sojourn will visit a total of seven ports in Quebec (Montreal, Quebec City, Trois Rivières, Saguenay, Baie Comeau, Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands).

“The initiative we are announcing today closely ties in with our vision and will help broaden Quebec City’s international outlook. I would like to thank Holland America Line for its commitment to opening up the local market. I’d also like to thank all the partners who worked so hard to make this agreement a reality. In keeping with that same spirit, we intend to keep the Quebec City region moving forward,” said Ms. Maltais.

“This agreement, which confirms Holland America’s return to the St. Lawrence, marks the initial milestone in what we hope will be a very successful initiative. As a port of call, Quebec City accounts for most of the cruise ship activity in the province of Quebec, making it one of the main stops on the St. Lawrence. Boosting the city’s profile in this way will generate economic benefits for the entire region. The campaign will also showcase nine international cruise ship stops while promoting the full range of our tourist attractions,” said Mr. Bérubé.

“For the very first time in Quebec City, the cruise season will be kicking off earlier in the summer, benefiting the entire regional tourist sector,” said Mayor Régis Labeaume. “With each passenger spending an average of $329, the benefits will be significant for all stakeholders, including the airport, local merchants, taxi companies, hotels, restaurants, etc.”

The Quebec City Tourism Office (OTQ) welcomes Holland America’s decision to operate cruises on the St. Lawrence earlier in the season and throughout the summer. According to Gabriel Savard, OTQ Director, “the fact that Holland America has selected Quebec City to be its St. Lawrence home port during the summer confirms our vision for developing and promoting the river as a tourist attraction in line with our growth plan through 2020. Now we have to convince other cruise lines to make Quebec City their home port.”