MONTREAL (AFP) - Canada said Thursday (July 15) it will lift a ban on cruise ships in its waters in November, as Covid-19 restrictions loosen earlier than expected.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the ban would "no longer be in effect if operators are able to fully comply with public health requirements".
"We will welcome cruise ships - an important part of our tourism sector - back in Canadian waters for the 2022 season," Mr Alghabra said.
The announcement allows the cruise and travel industries to "prepare in earnest to welcome cruise ships in 2022, while conveying a positive message to cruise lines eager to resume itinerary planning activities", said Quebec-based association Cruise the Saint Lawrence, which organises cruise development along nine ports of the Saint Lawrence river.
Canada has banned cruise ships for over a year, and voted in February of this year to extend the ban until next year.
The ban extended to cruise liners and other ships with a holding capacity of more than 100 passengers and crew.
Canada saw a steady decline in coronavirus-related deaths in recent months thanks to widespread availability of vaccines.
The cruise industry earns more than C$4 million (S$4.3 million) each year and is responsible for 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to Transport Canada.
In 2019, Canada welcomed 140 cruise liners from a dozen countries carrying two million tourists.