Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Trade Mission Participants Highlight Passenger Shipping Opportunities in the Great Lakes

October 18, 2005

St. Catharines, October 18, 2005 — The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Trade Mission delegation delivered a thumbs-up assessment of passenger cruising opportunities for Europeans looking for new and exciting vacations.  The message was delivered in London today to the Passenger Shipping Association, a group of leading cruise and ferry companies operating in the United Kingdom.

Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Administrator Albert S. Jacquez and St. Lawrence Management Corporation President Richard Corfe are leading a delegation of 22 American and Canadian public and private senior maritime officials from throughout the Great Lakes region on a week-long trade mission to England and Germany.  The presentation by the group representing one of North America’s premier inland waterway systems seeks to generate additional interest in cruising opportunities throughout the five Canadian-U.S. Great Lakes.  The world’s largest fresh water lakes stretch over thousands of miles from the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River to the port of Duluth, Minn., on Lake Superior.

“More and more vacationers who have previously tried cruises to traditional destinations are opting for new maritime vistas,” said Stephen Burnett, executive director of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition (GLCC).  “There is tremendous potential for new business to explore the Great Lakes and its 10,000 mile coast line:  whether vacationers are looking for remote, unspoiled wilderness like that offered in Georgian Bay and North Channel ports or shopping on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue Million Dollar mile, the Great Lakes have cruises that cater to everyone’s desires.”

The delegation raised awareness about cruise shipping on the Great Lakes, from major metropolitan cities like Toronto, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland to small villages sporting unforgettable marine shorelines. Historical and cultural attractions are major interests for the typical cruising enthusiast of this region. In the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, the ports that currently see the most cruise ship activity are Duluth and Toronto.

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System has more than doubled berths in the past five years and posted a two-thirds increase in the number of vessels plying its waters.  Last season, total economic revenue from cruise shipping in the Seaway System was approximately US $36 million.

“Today’s presentation by the Seaway Trade Mission delegation to the British cruising industry underscores the commitment by the Seaway Corporations, Seaway system stakeholders, and the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition to aggressively promote the Seaway and North America’s Great Lakes to an international audience,” said Jacquez.

Corfe agreed that the meeting was, “…a great opportunity to market our system directly to key British CEOs and cruise industry professionals.”

“The Seaway System offers experienced and novice cruising clients a wealth of options and itineraries that permit them to discover unforgettable marine and shore vistas in a relaxed environment and a safe maritime waterway,” said Corfe.  “That is why over the past few years, we have focused a segment of our trade development program on attracting cruise vessels into the Great Lakes.

The Seaway Trade Mission delegates are meeting with high level representatives of European shipping companies, government officials, international maritime organizations, bulk cargo exporters, and the cruise ship industry. This trade mission, the 28th in a series over two decades, is designed to facilitate face-to-face contact with maritime industry leaders and decision-makers to promote greater user of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System. In addition to the Administrator of the U.S. Seaway Corporation and the President of the Canadian Seaway Corporation, the 22-member delegation is comprised of the largest port and terminal operators from both countries, shipowners and operators, shipping agents, cruise industry representatives, and maritime trade specialists. The trade mission moves tomorrow to Germany where delegates meet with maritime executives in northern German ports of Hamburg, Bremen and Brake.