Last Updated on August 27, 2016
Thousands of cruise ship passengers are being prevented from travelling to British Columbia because of cutbacks made by the previous Conservative government.
Spending restrictions imposed in 2012 saw the shutdown of Canadian visa offices in several American cities.
One of the Canadian consulates to lose visa-issuing powers was Seattle, a popular stop on a cruise route that also includes B.C. capital Victoria.
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Previously, those tourists who had failed to secure a Canadian visa ahead of time could do so during the Seattle stop.
But now that is not possible, meaning 11,000 travellers and the dollars they would likely have spent are lost to the B.C. economy.
Tourism Victoria and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority have raised concerns with the federal government, calling for visa-issuing powers to be reinstated in Seattle.
The majority of travel agents pre-warn cruise passengers that a visa is required to enter Canada, but they still manage to arrive in Seattle without the necessary documents.
It means they are unable to continue their journey, cutting the trip short and forcing them to make alternative arrangements to get home.
The cruise ship industry generates in the region of $100 million a year for the Victoria economy. Around 525,000 passengers pass through the city annually.
New Democrat MP Gord Johns has written to Bardish Chagger, the federal small business minister, urging him to take action.
A spokesman for the minister’s office said it was consulting with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to see what can be done but also urged all passengers to make sure they had the correct travel documents.
The visa issue is also regularly faced by passengers on the Victoria Clipper ferry from Seattle, and the MV Coho route from Port Angeles to Victoria.
This suggests the numbers of people affected is greater than the 11,000 estimate, as this figure represents only those prevented from travelling via cruise ship.
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