Alaska Travel Industry Association Applauds AK Gov’s Push for PVSA Waiver

With Alaska’s 2021 large-ship cruise season effectively blocked by the recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decision to extend its “Conditional Sailing” Order, the state’s already fragile tourism industry remains under distress. The Alaska Travel Industry Association (ATIA) said in statement at the end of last week that it was “thrilled” to see Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy sign SJR 9 ("Urge Exemption for Cruise Ships", which urges the U.S. Congress to exempt cruise ships from the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) for the period during which Canadian ports are closed to cruise ships carrying more than 100 people.

“The tourism industry has pulled together like never before to make the most of the upcoming summer without large ship cruises, but there is just no way to replace more than a million travelers and the economic support those visitors bring to so many travel and tourism small businesses,” said ATIA president and CEO Sarah Leonard in a press statement. “Facing another year without large ships was going to mean loss of jobs and entire businesses, but with the governor’s proposal to rescue the 2021 Alaska tourism season, there is hope.”

ATIA has worked with and supported the CDC’s role to identify safety protocols for cruise operations and to keep passengers and communities healthy. As the leading statewide membership and nonprofit association for Alaska’s travel industry, ATIA also advocates for the economic health of its member businesses. Governor Dunleavy estimated that the cancelled cruise ship season in 2020, in addition to the potential cancellation of the 2021 season, will result in a loss to the State of Alaska’s gross domestic product of over $3.3 billion (for more details, see the Impacts to Alaska from 2020/2021 Cruise Ship Season Cancellation).

The cruise lines bring more than half of Alaska's annual visitors, and the visitor industry was on track to becoming Southeast Alaska's largest economic sector in 2020, with an estimated 1.44 million visitors traveling by cruise and spending nearly $800 million in the region, according to “Southeast by the Numbers 2019,” an economic survey of the region prepared by Rain Coast Data. While the impact of the cancelled cruise seasons has been most widely felt in Southeast Alaska, it greatly reduces the travelers and economic activity in the rest of the state as well.

In 2019, more than 52,000 Alaskans depended on tourism for their income and 1 in 10 jobs was attributed to Alaska tourism. The industry was responsible for injecting $4.5 billion in economic activity in the state.

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