Cruise tourism on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River is projected to grow in coming years and could generate economic benefits for communities hosting cruise vessels and businesses that support the industry. However, a lack of customs clearance facilities for cruise passengers and inconsistent application of customs regulations could hinder this expansion. Cruise operators, passengers, and port authorities require a consistent and efficient regulatory framework that can provide certainty and ensure the long-term viability and growth of regional cruising. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires specific facilities in which to ensure security and safety while screening passengers. To address these needs, a coalition comprising governors, port authorities, cruise operators, and other stakeholders is working with CBP to develop a long-term solution. The proposed plan includes a system of four permanent locations for processing cruise passengers in the U.S. portion of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence system: Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Duluth, Minnesota; and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Facilities already exist in Detroit and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, which can be used for cruise passengers. To complete the regional network, CBP is working with port authorities in Cleveland and Duluth to identify potential customs clearance facility locations and to discuss specific requirements.
Cruise tourism is a growing industry in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence maritime transportation system. The investment cards below describe programs and policies to promote tourism in the Great Lakes.