Congressman Don Young Stands Up for Alaska’s Tourism Industry, Introduces Legislation Allowing the 2021 Cruise Season to Safely Commence
Washington, February 24, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Today, Alaska Congressman Don Young introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act. The Canadian government’s recent announcement to extend the closure of their waters and ports to vessels carrying 100 passengers or more leaves cruise vessels unable to fulfill the Passenger Vessel Services Act’s (PVSA) requirement that non-coastwise endorsed cruise vessels stop at a foreign port between domestic stops. Congressman Young’s Alaska Tourism Recovery Act would provide a temporary 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.
"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 Congressman Don Young. “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. 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.
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."