Significance of the Cruise Industry in Atlantic Canada Tourism


  • Burç Kayahan Department of Economics, Acadia University
  • Ross Klein School of Social Work, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Brian VanBlarcom Department of Economics, Acadia University


Tourism has been identified as a strategic sector for the Atlantic Growth Strategy, launched in July 2016 by the Government of Canada and the Atlantic provincial governments. The cruise industry received particular attention due to its high profile and the rapid growth of cruise passenger traffic in Atlantic Canada during the post-2000 period until the global disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Identifying the economic impact of the cruise industry and assessing its significance within the overall tourism sector are essential to determine the extent to which the recent tourism strategy focusing on the development of the cruise industry has been successful in generating economic growth.

This paper examines the significance of the cruise industry by estimating the economic impact of its operation in Atlantic Canada in 2016. Our estimates from a regional input-output (I-O) model show that the cruise industry generated a total of $52.5 million in value-added, $30.1 million in total labour income, 515 full-time equivalent jobs, and $11.3 million in taxes. The analysis further shows that one-third of the total impact flows outside the region to the rest of the Canadian economy. The contribution of the cruise industry to the overall tourism sector is also estimated using Tourism Satellite Account data. The cruise industry’s shares of contribution to value-added generated by the overall tourism sector ranges from 0.5% to 2.2% depending on the province. Although the cruise industry’s shares of contribution to the employment and labour income generated by the overall tourism sector are similar in magnitude, its share of contribution to the taxes attributable to tourism is substantially smaller.

Our results illustrate that the cruise industry in Atlantic Canada has a modest economic impact and plays a relatively small role within the overall tourism sector, which stands in stark contrast to the high public profile of this industry. In the policy context, cruise tourism efforts have a limited capacity to instigate growth or replace the rapid erosion of manufacturing employment in this region since the early 2000s.