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Maritime port cities worry coronavirus could hamper cruise ship season
SYDNEY, N.S. -- With tourism season just around the corner, some business owners are wondering how they'll be affected by the spread of the coronavirus.
One of the first sectors that could feel the effects is the cruise ship industry -- something many business owners rely on.
When Bruce Meloney heard the chief public health officer tell Canadians to avoid travelling on cruise ships he started to worry.
The business owner depends on cruise passengers to keep his seasonal retail store in operation.
"There's not much we can do," Meloney said. "We just have to grin and bear it. Hopefully we get through all of this business wise. It's a very difficult time. I've order all my stuff before now, so it's all coming in on the water because a lot of it comes from China."
It's a similar concern for chef and restaurant owner Ardon Mofford. He's worried about what any loss of business will mean for his operation.
"When you look at that money, it's outside money that comes from off island," Mofford said. "It's money that we can't replace locally, so it will be a big loss and a big hit, if it continues to spread like it is right now."
Beginning in April, cruise ships are expected to start sailing into Maritime ports.
The first one is expected to arrive in Halifax on the 11th and then Charlottetown, Saint John and Sydney.
But the coronavirus could mean for a bumpy start to what's supposed to be a banner year for many.
"Right now, there are a lot of unanswered questions," said Marlene Usher, the CEO of the Port of Sydney. "We are having daily calls with the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association. We've had calls with Transport Canada, so we're monitoring the situation, but as of yet there has been no cancellations."
Usher says ports have been fielding a number of calls from concerned tourism operators.
"We have 21 retail outlets," Usher said. "We have shore excursions, bus tours, tour operators; all of those folks would be impacted."
For now it's business as usual, with many hoping for smooth sailing for Maritime ports this cruise season.