Murkowski, Sullivan Introduce Legislation to Help Alaska Cruise Season
Provides PVSA Fix for Cruise Ships
U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, today 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 will allow cruise ships to sail to Alaska without requiring that they stop in Canada, as U.S. law normally would require. 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. U.S. Congressman Don Young (R-AK) recently introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“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.”
To read the bill, click here.
- On February 13, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Congressman Young penned a letter to Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, urging him to work with the Alaska Congressional Delegation on COVID-19 travel restrictions in an effort to limit the negative impacts to Alaskan and Canadian constituents.
- On February 4, the Alaska Congressional Delegation reacted to an announcement by the Canadian Minister of Transport regarding two new Interim Orders which ban pleasure craft in Canadian Arctic waters and cruise vessels in all Canadian waters until February 28, 2022.
- In October 2020, in an effort to address US-Canada border crossing issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Senators Murkowski, Sullivan, Congressman Young, and Governor Mike Dunleavy (R-AK) sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise specific issues severely impacting Alaskans due to border crossing restrictions due to COVID-1. In their letter, the Alaska Delegation highlighted specific, persisting challenges impacting the health and safety of Alaskans and proposed reasonable solutions.