SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

'Another season without tourism in Southeast Alaska is simply not an option'

Posted/Edited by MARY KAUFFMAN



April 05, 2021
Monday PM

(SitNews) Juneau, Alaska - The Alaska State House last passed Senate Joint Resolution 9, sponsored by Senator Jesse Kiehl (D-Juneau), to encourage the United States Congress and the President Biden to temporarily pause federal laws currently blocking all chance of large cruise ships visiting the state. The Passenger Vessel Services Act requires large cruise ships to stop in at least one international port. On February 2, 2021, the Canadian government closed its ports to cruise ships for the entire 2021 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The resolution calls on Congress to grant an exemption to a federal law that requires cruise ships to stop at a foreign port in order to sail to Alaska. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has banned cruise ships carrying more than 100 people from sailing in Canadian waters, effectively preventing a tourism season here. 

As cruising resumes elsewhere in the world, Alaska workers and businesses need the opportunity for COVID-safe commerce. SJR 9 recognizes the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s October, 2020 framework for cruise ships in U.S. waters. That order requires stringent health measures to keep US ports safe. 

“With over 2 million visitors to Alaska every year, many Alaska families depend on a successful tourism season to put food on the table and a roof over their heads,” said Sen. Kiehl. “In 2019, tourism was responsible for $4 billion of economic activity in Alaska. We can’t afford to miss a second season in a row. With vaccination becoming widespread, we have the tools in place to keep Alaskans and visitors safe. That can give Alaska workers and businesses a chance.”

“Coastal Alaska's economy relies on tourism from cruise ships, which brought 90 percent of our visitors in the year before the pandemic,” said Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan). “Another lost season could be a fatal blow to many businesses hanging on by a thread, and I implore our federal partners to find common-sense alternatives that help businesses get back on their feet.”

“During the pandemic, Alaskans have found creative ways to keep their businesses floating and communities safe,” added Rep. Sara Hannan (D-Juneau). “The federal government also needs to get creative and find a way to bring back cruises this summer. Another season without tourism in Southeast Alaska is simply not an option.”

“Tourism is a critical piece of Alaska’s economy, generating more than $214 million in state and municipal revenue and accounting for over $2 billion in visitor spending,” said Rep. Andi Story (D-Juneau). “We need tourism to return to Alaska for our state to enter a recovery phase that allows businesses, families, and individuals to get back to work and reach solid ground again.”

SJR 9 passed on a 38-2 vote after an amendment on the Alaska House floor. The resolution will return to the Alaska Senate for final approval and will then be sent to the White House, Alaska Congressional Delegation, and other members of the 117th U.S. Congress.

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) on March 3rd, introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act to alleviate the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) restrictions for cruise ships transporting passengers between the State of Washington and the State of Alaska. This legislation if passed would allow cruise ships to sail to Alaska without requiring that they stop in Canada, as U.S. law normally would require.  U.S. Congressman Don Young (R-AK) also recently introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Canada’s Interim Order No. 5 Respecting Passenger Vessel Restrictions Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) prohibits cruise ships from navigating, mooring, anchoring or berthing in Canadian waters until February 28, 2022 or until the Canadian Government lifts the prohibition.

Cruise Industry News reported in mid-March that Hannah Ray, press secretary for U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, said there was not a vote scheduled in the U.S. Senate for the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act.

According to Cruise Industry News, the Act is seen a “first step” in operating cruises in Alaska and was not part of the COVID-19 relief package recently passed which many in the cruise industry thought it would be tagged onto. The Alaska Tourism Recovery Act will thus need to be part of a larger bill, or be voted on, which could be months off.



On the Web:

Holland America LIne Pauses All June 2021 Alaska Cruises Sailing Roundtrip from Seattle
SitNews - March 22, 2021

Princess Cruises Extends Pause of Cruise Vacationf From Seattle to Alaska through June 27, 2021
SitNews - March 22, 2021

Legislation introduced in US Senate to help Alaska cruise season
SitNews - March 07, 2021

Alaska Tourism Recovery Act Would Provide a Temporary Fix Allowing the 2021 Cruise Season to Safely Commence
SitNews - February 28, 2021

Canada Deals a Blow to alaska's Cruise Ship Industry
SitNews - February 14, 2021



Source of News:

Alaska House Coalition

Alaska Senate Democrats

Representations of fact and opinions in comments posted are solely those of the individual posters and do not represent the opinions of Sitnews.

Send a letter to the

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2021
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

 Articles & photographs that appear in SitNews are considered protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without written permission from and payment of any required fees to the proper freelance writers and subscription services.

E-mail your news & photos to

Photographers choosing to submit photographs for publication to SitNews are in doing so granting their permission for publication and for archiving. SitNews does not sell photographs. All requests for purchasing a photograph will be emailed to the photographer.