From The Telegram: Placentia businesses eagerly await return of Marine Atlantic North Sydney-Argentia ferry route in 2021
Posted: January 4, 2021 | In The Media
Placentia businesses eagerly await return of Marine Atlantic North Sydney-Argentia ferry route in 2021
By Andrew Robinson (email@example.com)
The Telegram (Saltwire) Published: January 1, 2021
Chamber of commerce president says loss of service hurt local hospitality, service sectors in 2020
Businesses close to Marine Atlantic’s terminal in Argentia will be pleased to see the resumption of ferry service to Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula in 2021.
The summer route connecting Argentia to North Sydney, N.S., was suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impact on travel between the two provinces.
During a recent annual review video presentation, Marine Atlantic CEO and president Murray Hupman committed to bringing the service back in 2021.
“We know our decision to suspend the Argentia service had a significant impact on our workforce, as well as the Placentia area this past summer,” Hupman said in the video posted in late November. “While much uncertainty remains for the 2021 summer season, we are planning to resume the seasonal Argentia service.”
The ferry run to Argentia usually starts in mid-June and finishes in mid-September. Primarily serving tourists and leisure travellers, it accommodated more than 30,000 passengers in 2019.
Wayne Power, president of the Placentia Chamber of Commerce, said the loss of the ferry service in 2020 negatively affected the local tourism industry.
“With no traffic coming in through the port of Argentia this year through Marine Atlantic, there was a significant loss,” he said. “Hard to quantify, due to the double-impact of COVID, but with the service not operating this year, there was a direct impact on the hospitality businesses and the service businesses that are here.”
Power also acknowledged there were people left without work as a result of the suspension of ferry service over the summer.
“That’s less money circulating through the community as well,” he said.
The chamber was in contact with Marine Atlantic when the announcement was made in May to cancel the 2020 season, and Power said it received reassurances then that this would not extend into 2021.
“It is promising that it will return (in 2021),” Power said, adding positive developments with vaccinations and few COVID-19 cases in the region give him additional hope for next summer.
“It gives a bit of hope to the businesses in the community that the service will be here, and the spinoffs of the service coming in through Argentia will be staying once again in the upcoming year.”
As part of the annual review presentation, Marine Atlantic also announced a new rolling schedule for bookings. A new four-month booking block will be released every three months.
“Our customers now have the option to book at least 13 months into the future,” Hupman explained in the video presentation. “This advanced booking timeline has worked well with other transportation sectors, and we feel the time is right to introduce it at Marine Atlantic, especially as our customers determine their future travel plans.”
He also addressed the Port aux Basques harbour improvement project, which will see the removal of Vardy’s Island, currently located in the middle of the harbour.
Port aux Basques and North Sydney serve as the year-round links between the two Atlantic provinces.
Hupman said the island’s removal will improve safety and reliability for Marine Atlantic vessels when navigating the harbour in difficult weather.
Hupman also confirmed Marine Atlantic is in discussions with the federal government about constructing a new facility for administrative staff in Port aux Basques.
“We are currently in discussions with the Government of Canada for the final approvals for this project,” he said.