Congressman Don Young in the Vancouver Sun: Charting a course for the next century of maritime policy
Washington, September 14, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Alaska Congressman Don Young published an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun detailing his recently introduced legislation to allow ports or land owned by Tribes or Alaska Native Corporations to satisfy the Passenger Vessel Services Act’s (PVSA) foreign stop requirement. Under the PVSA, large foreign-flagged passenger vessels are not permitted to make consecutive U.S. port stops without a foreign stop in between. This year, Alaska’s 2021 cruse season was put at risk by Canada’s decision to close its ports, effectively crushing a major component of Alaska’s economy. The Alaska Congressional Delegation successfully passed H.R. 1318, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, to save a portion of the cruise season. Following enactment by President Biden, cruises this year were exempted from stopping in Canada on voyages between Seattle and Alaska. In his op-ed, Congressman Young details his Tribal Tourism Sovereignty Act, which implements a permanent fix to allow large foreign-flagged ships to bypass Canada entirely. Click here to read his full op-ed.
Excerpts from the op-ed:
“When the chapter about the COVID-19 pandemic is written in Alaska’s history, it will be remembered as a time of resilience, shared sacrifice, and the never-give-up spirit that lives within all Alaskans. With new tools for economic development and prosperity, I believe Alaska can come back stronger than ever before.
COVID-19 exposed critical vulnerabilities in Alaska’s economy, which required emergency action to save a portion of the 2021 summer cruise season. The return of cruise ships to southeast Alaska brought much-needed economic activity to the region. But it also served as a reminder that, in the future, we cannot allow such a vital portion of our economy to be held hostage by a foreign country, in this case, Canada. Make no mistake about it, without the passage of the Alaskan Tourism Restoration Act, Canada’s port closures would have doomed the 2021 cruise season despite our ability to mitigate COVID-19 on large cruise vessels.
To add insult to injury, Canada’s power to cancel Alaska’s 2021 cruise season was only possible because of a U.S. law known as the Passenger Vessels Services Act (PVSA). In short, the PVSA, enacted in 1886, does not allow foreign-flagged passenger vessels to make consecutive U.S. port stops without stopping at a foreign port in between. Upon the expiration of the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, Canada will once again have de facto veto authority over Alaska’s cruise industry. As a result, we must reform the PVSA to protect the sovereignty of our tourism economy.
This summer, I introduced the Tribal Tourism Sovereignty Act, which will do exactly that.”