Alaska Tourism Recovery Act Would Provide a Temporary Fix Allowing the 2021 Cruise Season to Safely Commence
Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN
February 28, 2021
To address this requirement, Alaska Congressman Don Young introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act last week which would provide a temporary Passenger Vessel Services Act’s (PVSA) workaround by deeming roundtrip voyages between Alaska and Washington State as foreign voyages for the purposes of U.S. law.
The bill’s provisions are narrowly tailored to provide targeted relief for large cruise vessels trips to and from Washington State and Alaska that are the lifeblood of Alaska’s summer tourism economy. Importantly, the provisions are temporary and would only apply during the closure of Canadian waters and ports. Providing a temporary legislative solution to allow for the resumption of cruising between Alaska and Washington state under U.S. cabotage laws is an important effort in the push to save a portion of the Alaskan summer cruise season. The CDC’s Conditional Sail Order remains in place, and Congressman Young has called on the Biden Administration to work constructively with the industry to find a path forward toward the safe resumption of cruising.
Young said, " My bill is simple: the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act provides a temporary fix by designating roundtrip cruises as foreign voyages, creating a workaround for the PVSA. Now it is incumbent upon the Biden Administration and the CDC to work quickly and collaboratively to implement a plan to safely resume cruising. "
"This month, Canada's surprise decision to close their ports shocked Alaska's communities, and has caused significant uncertainty for our small business owners and the broader tourism economy. Managing the pandemic requires tough choices, and that has never been in question. But if cruises can safely proceed, and I believe they can, then we ought to be doing everything possible to alleviate the stress and anxiety of families whose livelihoods depend on tourists coming to Alaska to experience our great state,” said Young.
Young said, “The COVID-19 pandemic devastated Alaska's 2020 cruise season; we must not allow the same to happen to 2021's season. Today, I am very proud to introduce the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act to help provide relief and certainty to the communities that depend on a thriving tourism sector. Under current law, the PVSA requires cruise ships to make a foreign stop in between domestic port stops. Canada's decision to close its waters effectively cancels the 2021 cruise season and cripples the industry in Alaska and the pacific northwest."
"We have made significant progress in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccinations continue to ramp up, and daily cases are on the decline. By the time the 2021 cruise season typically starts, I am confident that we will be in a strong position to allow cruises to resume with proper safeguards in place. Tourism is a critical part of our state's economy. Communities from Juneau and Ketchikan to Skagway, Cordova, Whittier, and countless others are already suffering from the recession caused by the pandemic. All Alaskans are asking for is the opportunity to open their doors and make an honest living this summer, and we must give them a fighting chance. I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to help ensure that Alaska remains a safe vacation option so that our resilient small businesses can get back to work and provide for their families," said Young.
Although the Canadian Government has been firm in its decision to ban all cruise ship travel from their shores, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has now announced it will not be canceling any voyages. This includes cruises embarking/debarking from Canadian ports and those itineraries touching on Canadian ports of call.
Cruise Hive reports, the cruise line says it is working through potential options with the Government of Canada and the USA and the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). The announcement comes as Alaskan government officials called the travel ban ‘unacceptable’.
Royal Caribbean had four ships scheduled to sail in Alaska in 2021. Quantum of the Sea had been canceled previously due to her staying in Singapore, where she is currently cruising.
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