WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S.-led ‘Alaska Tourism Recovery Act’ is one step closer to being a reality.
And while that’s potentially good news for U.S. cruise lines looking to salvage the summer 2021 Alaska cruise season, it could be bad news for Canadian port cities and other Canadian tourism operations that rely on the Alaska cruise season.
It’s not official yet, and the Act only allows for a temporary exemption – so far. But as ACTA pointed out a couple of months ago, when it spoke out against the Act with the Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia (TIABC) and others, temporary measures have a way of becoming permanent.
The Alaska Tourism Recovery Act is legislation that was put into motion by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, back in March 2021. If passed, the Act would allow U.S. cruise ships to sail to Alaska without having to stop in Canada.
Ships with non-U.S. registry can’t embark and disembark passengers at more than one U.S. port – unless the itinerary also includes a foreign port. For Alaska cruises, the ‘foreign ports’ have always been Canadian. It’s all part of the U.S. Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA).
According to reports yesterday in the Anchorage Daily News, the U.S. Senate has passed the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act. If the motion is approved by the House and signed by President Biden, cruise ships could be sailing to Alaska this summer and bypassing Canada completely.
The Act allows for just a temporary exemption, until February 2022, when Canada’s ban on cruise ships, extended in February 2021 by a year by Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, is set to expire.
That’s the only glimmer of hope for Canadian port cities like Vancouver and Victoria, and Canadian tourism operations large and small that rely heavily on the dollars brought in by the Alaska cruise season.
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