Members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ transportation committee are asking the Canadian government for a compromise that would allow the resumption of cruises in Canadian waters, which could revive the season in Alaska.
In a Feb. 24 letter to Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, committee chair Peter DeFazio and others argue that the cruise ban is destroying the tourism industry in Alaska and elsewhere, including Canada itself.
Canada plays a key role in supporting U.S. cruise tourism in Alaska, Washington, the Great Lakes and New England, the letter said. Before the pandemic, the cruise industry in these parts of the United States generated a total of $2.85 billion in direct economic spending, including more than 53,000 jobs and $3.1 billion in wages.
In Canada, the cruise industry generates nearly C$2 billion in direct spending and more than C$1.4 billion in wages and salaries, accounting for 30,000 jobs.
Closing Canadian ports to passenger ships for another year puts tens of thousands of Americans and Canadians at risk of losing their jobs and further economic damage, the letter says.
As part of its efforts to prevent COWID-19, Canada banned passenger ships with more than 100 passengers on board from entering its waters and ports in February 2022.
One of the solutions they have proposed would be to allow cruise ships to call at Canadian ports without disembarking passengers. The U.S. Passenger Ship Act of 1886 does not allow foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail between U.S. ports without calling at a foreign port in between. To protect U.S. maritime interests, cruise ships based in Seattle, Vancouver or Victoria, B.C., must now call at Alaska, to cite just one example.
The letter was signed by Peter A. DeFazio, chairman of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Sam Graves, non-councilman, Salud Carbajal, chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, Bob Gibbs, non-councilman, and Don Young, U.S. Representative for Alaska.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) made this statement: We thank Chairman DeFazio, a distinguished member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Mr. Graves, and the other signatories for their leadership in facilitating a dialogue with the Canadian government to determine the way forward for the resumption of Alaska cruises in the United States this year. CLIA looks forward to working with Canadian and U.S. officials to find a solution that meets the public health needs of Americans and Canadians while responsibly revitalizing a key economic engine for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
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