Canadian port cities anticipate an economic boost this summer from influx of cruise travellers attracted by low loonie and country's 150th birthday celebrations.
Ports across Atlantic Canada, Quebec and British Columbia expect a surge in cruise traffic.
With the opening in May of a $78-million refurbished passenger terminal, the Port of Montreal anticipates the number of cruise passengers and crew members will be up 28 per cent from last year to 110,000 as the city is celebrates its 375th birthday and Canada's sesquicentennial.
The extra passengers are expected to generate an additional $5.5 million in local spending, raising the total this year to about $30 million, says Tourisme Montreal.
Ports in Atlantic Canada are also anticipating double-digit increases in 2017 above the nearly 600,000 passengers that landed last year, said Brian Webb, executive director of Cruise Atlantic Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador is expecting a record cruise season with an expected 99,266 passenger and crew visits, up from 50,448 passenger and crew visits in 2016.
While in Canadian ports, cruise ship passengers spent almost $262 million or nearly $150 per person in 2012, according to the latest study conducted by the industry.
Average spending was highest in B.C. ports, which accounted for 54% of the more than two million passenger visits and 77% of spending. A new study is slated to be released this spring.
Webb attributed most of the growth in visitors to the low value of the Canadian dollar which encouraged cruise lines a couple of years ago to add routes this summer.
Canada's birthday celebrations, the Tall Ships gathering in Halifax from July 29 to Aug. 1 and increased tourism efforts across the region are also contributing factors, said Lane Farguson, spokesman for the Port of Halifax.
The Port of Halifax, largest in Atlantic Canada, welcomed 238,000 cruise passengers in 2016, up seven per cent from the prior year.
Although the number of vessels calling at Halifax decreased last year, the port is seeing larger ships, with the Royal Caribbean's 4,100-passenger Anthem of the Seas setting a record for most passengers last fall.
In Vancouver, Canada's largest port anticipates a strong cruise season after seeing volumes grow three per cent in 2016 to 830,000 passengers, mainly on Alaskan cruise itineraries.
Prince Rupert BC foresees a doubling of the smaller cruise ships that will come ashore at the port on the cruising route near the Alaskan border.