Opening the ocean border to U.S. vacationers is a aid for Victoria ferry operator – Victoria Information

The pledge to reopen British Columbia’s maritime border in September is a relief, an international ferry company said, although its potential to revive tourism and revenue is being dampened by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Canada’s Border Services Agency announced on Aug. 24 that fully vaccinated U.S. travelers could arrive at Alaska State Ferry Terminal, Washington State Ferry Terminal, Bellville Street Terminal, and Blackball Terminal on September 6. The latter two depart from Victoria’s Inner Harbor.

Starting September 17, Clipper Vacations will operate from Victoria’s Bellville Street Terminal to Seattle at 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and offer tours on weekends starting in Seattle at 7:30 a.m. and returning from Victoria at 5:00 p.m., the ferry route said CEO David Gudgel. Bookings will open on September 6th.

Blackball Ferry Line will not resume service between Victoria and Port Angeles, Washington until US border restrictions are lifted, said co-owner Ryan Burles. These restrictions are expected to apply until at least September 21st. Canadian travelers to the U.S. account for up to 40 percent of their usual crossings, he added.

Burles said the upcoming general election had sparked fears that the sea borders would not open until after the election or later in the event of a new government.

With the opening of Canada’s maritime borders confirmed in less than two weeks, the requirements for the PCR-COVID-19 test are the next biggest hurdle for ferries and the tourists who serve them. The tests are required 72 hours before crossing a border and can cost $ 200 if done internationally, Gudgel said. While required, “there won’t be a situation where people decide at the last minute to go to Victoria for the weekend,” he said. “It’s a hell of a challenge.”

An earlier announcement on Aug. 9 that would allow land borders to be opened to the exclusion of sea borders created incredible confusion for ferry services, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in a statement reiterated by Gudgel and Burles. The terminal on Bellville Street has been denied entry for lack of use, noted Gudgel.

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