Alaskans Come Out in Strong Support of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act
The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, a bill to provide a path forward to resume cruise ship industry operations to Alaska, is on its way to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This legislation, led by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, provides cruise ships transporting passengers between the State of Washington and the State of Alaska a temporary fix under the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA). Due to the Canadian prohibition on passenger vessels traveling through Canadian waters, large cruise ships sailing to Alaska would not have been able to sail to Alaska, as the PVSA requires a stop in a foreign country.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated mandates have decimated Alaska’s tourism industry. The lack of cruise ship passengers traveling to the state has severely impacted Alaskans, small business owners, and Alaska’s economy overall. The Alaska Congressional Delegation has been committed to finding a path forward for the Alaska cruise industry to resume and in turn, Alaska’s economy.
Click here for comments from the Alaska Congressional Delegation and a timeline of their efforts.
What They’re Saying About the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act
“This bill represents an essential first step toward getting cruise ships back in Skagway. Our economy is almost solely dependent on cruise tourism and our future as a community is at stake. I applaud Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, and Congressman Young for their dogged determination in getting this bill passed so that we can look forward to at least a partial 2021 season.”
-Andrew Cremata, Skagway Mayor
“Our economies, workers and small business owners have suffered great harm from COVID19 and this legislation allows cruise ships to come to Alaska. Many steps have to be taken to return to safe cruising, but without the PVSA waiver, none of the other steps matter. Big thanks for putting a strong shoulder into moving this legislation!”
-Rorie Watt, Juneau City Manager
“The bells of joy are ringing across Southeast Alaska as the first ray of hope for economic recovery for the region's tourism and hospitality sectors breaks through. Southeast Conference is incredibly grateful to our Delegation for “doing the impossible”. When told the PVSA could not be changed on such short notice, they were undaunted and made it happen! Southeast Alaska suffered the most with the highest number of jobs lost in 2020. Now those businesses have a chance to generate some revenue that will help them to survive until better days in 2022.”
-Robert Venables, Southeast Conference Executive Director
“We are deeply grateful to the entire U.S. Congress, but especially to our advocates, Alaska’s Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young,” said ATIA President and CEO Sarah Leonard. “This legislation is literally a lifeline for so many of Alaska’s small businesses that were struggling, and it means job opportunities for Alaskans this summer.”
-Sarah Leonard, President and CEO of ATIA
“The congressional delegation was persistent, insistent, tenacious and, at times, aggressive in their pursuit of saving the Alaska tourism season. With the passage of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, thousands of jobs and businesses will be saved and our economy will get the shot in the arm we so desperately need.”
-Kati Capozzi, President and CEO of Alaska Chamber
“Alaska faced the need for a legislative solution to an outdated law that has threatened to prevent the cruise industry from returning to Alaska. We were told by many people that it “cannot be done.” You got it done today, and your success will bring meaningful benefit to hundreds of households in Hoonah and tens of thousands of households across Alaska. Thanks to the work of the delegation, Congress recognized the need to extend this lifeline to communities like Hoonah that depend on the cruise industry to support jobs and tax revenue, and thanks to the delegation, Congress acted unanimously to pass legislation to help our communities. On behalf of our 1450 Alaska Native shareholders, our cruise port of Icy Strait Point and our village of Hoonah, thank you. Alaska is now open for business.”
-Russell Dick, President and CEO of Huna Totem Corporation
“On behalf of all of the employees of Princess and Holland America Line, we would like to thank Senator Murkowski and the entire Alaska Congressional Delegation. Their work will make a huge difference for the thousands of small businesses that are the backbone of the Alaska tourism industry.”
-Ralph Samuels, Vice President Community and Government Relations, Alaska for Holland America Group
“Thank you to our entire Congressional delegation for their leadership in both chambers of Congress. The tourism industry asked for assistance during this unprecedented time, and our delegation team has stepped up in a big way. Passing the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act gives the entire industry hope that we will be able to welcome cruise ships back to Alaska and salvage at least a portion of this summer. Premier Alaska Tours typically has 600+ employees. In 2020, this was reduced to 12 due to the pandemic. Without the cruise ships in 2021, we expect to employ 150 employees this summer which is significantly better than 2020, but still far short of our normal levels. With the actions this week in DC, we are excited to possibly bring back more of our team for the 2nd half of the summer season.”
-Joshua Howes, President of Premier Alaska Tours
“This is such welcome news for our community, which has worked hard to become one of Alaska's top visitor destinations. It's been heartrending to hear the stories our local tourism businesses have shared as they have tried to hold on to their livelihoods. I realize we still have a way to go, but it's definitely the most hopeful news I've heard this past year. I am grateful to Senator Murkowski, along with Congressman Young and Senator Sullivan for their untiring efforts on our behalf.”
-Patti Mackey, CEO of Ketchikan Visitors Bureau
“We want to express our sincere appreciation to Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, and Representative Young for their efforts to preserve a portion of the 2021 Alaska cruise season. The passage of the temporary PVSA waiver bill will have major economic benefits to our company, the region, and the state. Our locally-owned business, which has operated for over 50 years and employs hundreds of full time and seasonal workers, can now begin to rebuild from the economic hardship of the pandemic. Over the last year, Senator Murkowski and her staff have made time to listen intently to our story and concerns, and they consistently assured us they would do all in their power to help. While they faced obstacles along the way, today’s achievement is proof of their commitment to our company and to Alaska.”
-Dave Allen, Owner of Allen Marine in Sitka
“The passage of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act was an amazing effort lead by our Congressional delegation. Many small businesses such as ours will now have the opportunity to generate revenue following 19 months of no business. Our businesses in Southeast Alaska will still need further assistance, but the tireless efforts from our delegation has created the path to survival for our Alaskan employee owned business as well as hundreds of other small businesses in Southeast Alaska dependent on the cruise industry.”
-Dennis McDonnell, President of Alaska Coach Tours and Pacific Alaska Tours
“For many Alaskan communities tourism is a lifeline. Our economies are driven by tourism and our people thrive on the opportunity to show the world our land and our way of life. We truly want to thank our Alaska delegation and the American congress for believing in us.”
-Dave Spokely, Co-Owner of Ward Cove Dock Group
“Incredible that our Alaska Congressional Delegation has convinced every US Senator, every US Representative, and the President of the United States to help thousands of Alaskans. Their efforts have given us hope to get back to work in tourism this summer.”
-John Binkley, former CLIA Alaska President and Co-Owner of Ward Cove Dock Group LLC.
“We are thrilled and congratulate Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Congressman Young for leading the passage of legislation to help save the Alaska cruise season. While there is still work to be done, the cruise industry is one step closer to sailing in Alaska this year. We thank the Alaska delegation, along with Governor Dunleavy and the Alaska State Legislature, for their leadership in achieving this important milestone. On behalf of our members, we look forward to doing our part to help put Alaskan communities back to work.”
-Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)