City Council has given Mayor Jack Mussallem the green light to sign a memorandum of understanding between the City of Prince Rupert and the Prince Rupert Port Authority related to improving cruise ship passenger experience in Prince Rupert.
It’s hoped the memorandum will signal that the two entities are working together and send a positive message to potential cruise ship traffic.
A draft of the MOU indicates that the communities of Port Edward, Metlakatla and Lax Kw’alaams will also be included as partners.
In its role, the City will be expected to be an active supporter, leader and facilitator in the cruise industry and make cruise ship tourism a priority.
During a presentation to council at a regular meeting Monday evening, Shaun Stevenson, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for the Port Authority, told council the memorandum will formalize the alignment of interests going forward so that there’s clarity that it’s a partnership between the two groups.
“We look forward to working with the City and engaging people beyond this season to strengthen our offering to tourists,” Stevenson said.
Andrew Hamilton, Manager of Trade Development, said momentum to develop a cruise ship task force emerged in January 2011 when the community came together in the wake of the news that Norwegian Cruise Lines had decided to redeploy one of its vessels to Victoria instead of Prince Rupert after 2011.
“Out of that first meeting two key initiatives emerged. One is focusing on 2011 and what can be done to improve the independent guest experience in Prince Rupert, which is something that had been identified as weakness and something where we needed a lot of work,” Hamilton told council.
The second focus is for a longer term plan.
“The Port Authority is committed to the cruise industry and despite this hiccup that is coming up we feel very confident that there is a lot of potential here still in Prince Rupert and we would like the City of Prince Rupert and community as a whole to be partners as we move forward with this initiative,” Hamilton said.
So far the task force has identified 26 different steps toward enhancing passenger experience. Some will be implemented in 2011, others will be developed in the future.
According to Hamilton, features that will be ready for 2011 include a visitor guide with better orientation and interpretation around Prince Rupert, more entertainment and engagement for guests as they wander around the community, a focus on retail and re-engagement of the business community in Prince Rupert to develop the retail sector, and additional efforts to lead visitors to the assets in Prince Rupert.
“Even though it’s the Port that’s coming forward and making this presentation, we see it as a community initiative. It’s something where we have engagement from a number of organizations, individuals and entities,” Hamilton added.
Councillor Nelson Kinney suggested the Lester Centre of the Arts be included and said he’d like to see First Nations Dance performances and display booths put up there.
“We could have a few buses pick people up and take them down there. I think it would be a great thing to look into,” Kinney said.
Stevenson said they’ve been looking at areas of the City that are underutilized.
“Whether it’s the Performing Arts Centre or North Pacific or other capacities in Prince Rupert, we’re looking at all of them as ways of strengthening our offering or a platform for looking after more of those guests when they get here,” he said.
While the Port is still waiting to hear about 2012, Stevenson confirmed there will be 22 cruise ship calls in 2011.
“We’ve lost our weekly call in 2012, that’s for certain, but we do have tentatively scheduled five calls so far,” Stevenson said.