U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act in response to Canada prohibiting cruise ships from visiting any of their ports until 2022. Due to the Passenger Vessel Services Act, foreign flagged cruise ships can not transport passengers from one U.S. port to another without stopping in a foreign country.
The Alaska Tourism Recovery Act would allow cruise ships to sail roundtrip from Seattle to Alaska in 2021 due to the extraordinary impacts of the COVID–19 pandemic on Alaskan communities. The two page bill can be read here.
“Canada’s recent decision to prohibit Alaska-bound cruise ships from operating in Canadian waters creates legal hurdles that will hamstring the Alaska cruise season, creating additional economic strain on Alaska’s entire economy, especially in our Southeast communities. Alaskan communities are already facing severe economic hardship and uncertainty from missing one tourism season as a result of COVID-19. We have seen double-digit employment declines in Southeast and a more than 30 percent drop in revenue statewide.
Missing another cruise season would only compound the economic fallout that has been devastating for so many families,” said Senator Murkowski. “By providing this technical fix to the PVSA for Alaska-bound cruise ships from the State of Washington, we are taking significant steps towards safely resuming cruise ship activity and economic certainty at a time when Alaskans need it most.”
“Canada’s recent decision to close its ports to passenger vessels for another year has dire implications for Alaska’s tourism industry and the hundreds of small businesses and tens of thousands of hard-working Alaskans who support it,” said Senator Sullivan. “These Alaskans have already had to grapple with a lost season last year due to COVID-19. They simply can’t afford to weather another season without the tremendous economic activity that cruise ships provide to our coastal communities.
As a delegation, when we first heard this announcement by the Canadians, we committed to pursuing all means available, including legislation, to save this tourism season. Today, we’re making good on that promise with a bill that would temporarily waive the federal requirement for foreign-flagged cruise ships to stop at a Canadian port when traveling to Alaska from the Lower 48.
We’re continuing to pursue our multiple pronged approach to tackle this issue, by working closely with the Canadian government, our own CDC and Administration officials, and local Alaska leaders to address any other hurdles that could cause a delay in the 2021 tourism season.”
Even if the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act passes, the CDC would still need to give cruise lines the green light to operate cruises this summer.