SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


It's More Than Just The Head Tax
By Shauna Lee


April 06, 2009

I have read all the letters recently regarding the head tax, and whether it has an effect on a ships decisions to re-locate their vessels to other ports. I believe that people are missing the larger picture on issues that face the cruise industry.

The head tax is just one problem that they face in cruising Alaskan waters. They were also asked to acheive higher waste emission standards than any Alaskan town - and even when they did so, were told they still weren't compliant! (With House Bill 134 passing the House of Representatives, and hopefully the Senate soon, this issue will be taken care of.)

The cruise industry is in business to make money. They have shareholders who hold them accountable for every penny earned or lost. While a guest may not even be aware that they are paying the $50 head tax, that price increase either cuts into their profit margin or forces them to raise their ticket price, making the ticket less desirable to the consumer. If a ship can make a 20% profit cruising to Alaska - OR - a 21% profit cruising Mexico, the bottom line is... that ship will head to Mexico.

There are also many restrictions that the ships face once at a port that they don't face in other regions. In Ketchikan the ship shore excursion personnel can't sell tickets on the pier - Shore Excursions account for an average of 20% of their total income. Sales restriction again cut into that profit margin.

So, I don't believe that the ships' decisions to leave are based on one issue - it is a combination of many things. Rising costs and an onslaught of restrictions have made it more and more difficult to make big profits in the Alaskan market. And no matter how many tourists may want to cruise to Alaska, no cruise line is going to deploy a ship unless they can turn a profit.

I am still astonished on a daily basis that some Alaskans, especially those in Southeast, don't see how the cruise industry supports our towns and our people. I may be only one person - but my money, my TOURISM DOLLARS, are spent on gas, groceries, a mortgage, clothing, sales tax, dining, services, etc., etc., etc. Every man, woman and child in this town benefits in some way, large or small, from the cruise ship industry - and I for one, am grateful for it.

Shauna Lee
Ketchikan, AK

About: "Shauna Lee is the shore excursion manager for The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show and is an active supporter of the cruise industry."

Received April 03, 2009 - Published April 06, 2009


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