NANAIMO — The local cruise industry is facing a dismal year and the Port of Nanaimo says intentional sabotage is to blame.
Acting Port board chair Donna Hais said someone sent an anonymous letter to major players in the cruise industry alleging Nanaimo's dock was unsafe and ships should avoid it altogether. Hais said they were made aware of the letter by industry colleagues roughly 16 months ago.
"It's a devastating situation," Hais told NanaimoNewsNOW. "That seriously hurt our reputation in a very small industry and we've had to fight hard to come back."
Hais said several cruise operators cancelled visits in 2018 and 2019, resulting in just three ships on the books for this year and five visits in 2018.
The recent slump is not a major deviation from recent years, however, as ships made 20 visits to the harbour city from 2015 to 2018.
Nanaimo's facilities are entirely safe and all of the allegations in the letter were false, Hais said. She said local infrastructure is required to pass routine maintenance and inspections and undergoes marine surveys each year.
The letter was sent out at roughly the same time the port authority was embroiled in a bitter dispute with a local group seeking to overthrow federal control of Nanaimo's harbour in favour of a non-profit organization. During the peak of the dispute, which played out extensively in local media, NanaimoNewsNOW was approached by an anonymous person pitching a story about corrosion of the cruise dock creating unsafe conditions.
"It was intentional on someone's part to try and destroy the industry here," Hais said.
She said the Port isn't going to waste time searching for the source of the letters, instead focusing efforts on repairing Nanaimo's reputation within the industry. Already, seven ships are scheduled for 2020, Hais said.
"We're not going to look back and focus on that negative. We're just pushing the positive."
On Twitter: @domabassi
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