Minister of Tourism and Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, Raymond Bachand, unveiled the Strategy for the Sustainable Development and Promotion of International Cruises on the St Lawrence River.

The strategy, awaited by the Quebec tourism industry, centers on partnership and the twofold objective of increasing tourism revenues in Québec and diversifying and stimulating regional economies through the creation or consolidation of businesses devoted to the reception of new international clienteles. It is based on the consultations conducted among the key partners concerned by international cruises, in particular federal and provincial government departments and agencies, municipal and port officials, and stakeholders in the tourism industry.

“The development of port visits of international caliber along the St. Lawrence River and in Saguenay allows Québec to create wealth through the injection of new money in the economy,” Minister Bachand noted. “The Strategy for the Sustainable Development and Promotion of International Cruises on the St Lawrence River will enable us to increase, in particular, the number of American visitors, a priority tourist clientele for Québec,” he added.

The ports of call proposed in the strategy are those that offer the greatest potential, are supported by the communities concerned and have to date initiated an approach or elaborated projects. Saguenay, Sept-Îles, Baie-Comeau, Gaspé, Havre-Saint-Pierre and the Îles-de-la-Madeleine satisfy these criteria.

The development of these new ports of call downstream from Québec City will benefit coastal regions in eastern Québec that are seeking economic renewal activities. The most tangible short-term impact will stem from spending by companies, passengers and crew members during the port visits. Numerous jobs may be created or maintained and unique business opportunities will be available to local enterprises.

The addition of ports of call will enable the St. Lawrence River to set itself apart as a cruise destination and will, as a result, consolidate Quebec City’s reputation and maintain that of Montréal. Montréal and Québec City will thus be more likely to become home ports or ports of embarkation and disembarkation. Trois-Rivières will also benefit from the development of cruises on the St. Lawrence.

To cover the entire range of investment needs over the next five years and quickly make Québec a recognized destination, the funding required to implement the strategy is estimated at $156 million, to be provided through a partnership between the Québec and federal government and local communities. Québec will contribute $52.5 million to the implementation of the strategy. Excluding the $9.8 million already invested in the development of the Quai A - Lepage in Saguenay, Québec’s investments over the next five years will be on the order of $42.7 million.

The Québec ministry of tourism plans to allocate $34.2 million in new funding toward port and tourism infrastructure. The ministry of tourism will fund the cost of international promotion, marketing and studies pertaining to port and tourism infrastructure totaling $6.1 million from its budgets and regular appropriations.

“I have always said that, to increase the use of our embarkation and disembarkation port, we must also develop ports downstream from Québec City. This strategy is being introduced at the right time for the St. Lawrence River overall,” Ross Gaudreault, President and CEO of the Québec Port Authority said.

The development of this industry in Québec could generate significant economic spinoff. According to a scenario that calls for average annual growth of 17%, Québec could welcome by 2014 nearly 400,000 passenger visits during some 300 port visits. This growth my ultimately generate annual expenditures of roughly $275 million and enable all of the regions involved to create and maintain numerous jobs. Between 2006 and 2014, overall tourist spending is expected to reach $1.4 billion.