Don Young introduces Tourism Recovery Act - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, April 20, 2021
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Don Young introduces Tourism Recovery Act

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Congressman Don Young of Alaska has introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act to enact a cruise ship workaround for closed Canada ports.

Canada’s decision to close its ports to cruise ships has devastated Alaska’s coastal communities, and has caused uncertainty for small business owners and the broader tourism economy, Young wrote.

“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. 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,” Young wrote.

Under current law, the Passenger Vessel Services Act requires cruise ships to make a foreign stop in between domestic port stops. Canada’s decision to close its waters cancels the 2021 cruise season, if a solution cannot be found.

Young’s bill provides a temporary fix by designating roundtrip cruises as foreign voyages, creating a workaround for the the Passenger Vessel Services Act.

“Communities such as Juneau, Ketchikan, 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,” Young said.

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has also sent a letter to Canadian Ambassador Kirsten Hillman encouraging the government of Canada and the U.S. to “find a mutually agreeable solution.” The committee proposed permitting stops in Canada without disembarking passengers, something known as a “technical call,” which would meet the requirements of the law.

“It is our hope that this solution would both address the important health concerns of Canadian authorities and allow cruises to resume with the approval of the U.S. Government authorities when it is deemed safe to do so,” the committee members wrote to Ambassador Hillman.

Quick action will be required to save enough of the 2021 cruise season, and it is estimated to take 90 days for the industry to put ships back into service that have been in layup status.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • The Jones Act, which prevents foreign flagged ships and workers from dominating American ports, is not to be trifled with or amended (Mr. Young’s idea). What did we do before the mega-cruise ships started their drive to turn Alaska into just another destination to milk tourists? Alaska utilized our own resources, ideas and ambition to turn the state into an economic powerhouse independent of outside endeavors to keep us a territory owned by politicians instead of becoming a state with our own voice. A state that benefitted the residents as well as the business endeavors that presented their enterprising owners with once in a lifetime opportunities. Now, Mr. Young is willing to jeopardize the entire country against foreign owned cruise ship lines (and all shipping to follow) for the crumbs the cruise industry throws Alaskans. I say “suck it up Alaskans”. We survived before cruise ships. We can do it again. Turn your ambition and ideas into things that do not depend on foreign interests with ships that pillage, plunder and pollute Alaska for profit. Depend on ourselves and America. We can’t go wrong. It’s about all we have left.

    • This has nothing to do with the Jones Act.

    • Temporary is the key here. Just allow cruise ships a waiver of until Canada opens up.

      If cruise ships are canceled another year, it will hurt thousands of Alaskans and close hundreds of Álaska owned businesses.

    • Easy to say if you don’t have a SE Alaska business dependent on the tourists arriving on the cruise ships.

      • Let’s assume something like this could pass-what makes you think there are enough folks willing to get on board one of these petri dishes prior to this pandemic being under control? I personally think this is an opportune time to look at smaller tour vessels built in US that can better handle the amount of traffic ponying up to be the next guinea pigs.
        Remember that you are living on these ships for some time, not just taking an afternoon cruise.

    • Ben
      You must have a secure government job. But you should have a little sympathy for all the tourism business people that can’t survive another year with no ships.

      Let’s debate the Jones act after this COVID thing has passed. Thanks

      • Southeast AK has pushed all resource extraction industries out for the last couple of decades make them very susceptible to this kind of problem. No diversification. Now that the chickens have come home to roost, they are all complaining that they have means of earning a living.
        When it comes to wanting oil money, SE is the greediest. Look at where the highest votes are to increase oil taxes. SE wants the money but does not want the resource extraction that goes with it.
        SE has many natural resources and its residents should look to that for their future.

        • Um…get some facts. Greens Creek Mine, Kensington Mine, mineral exploration going north of Haines and other locations, so there is resource extraction. The timber industry collapsed when the contracts were not renewed. Trees were being sold for the price of a Big Mac.

    • This is hilarious. “Suck it up Alaskans”? Are we also supposed to SUCK UP our only other main revenue resource as well? Biden pretty much wiped our our oil industry up here.
      So we now have neither oil or the tourists industry. We have no other major industry here in Alaska. Guided hunts and fishing won’t sustain this state, because the majority of the revenue goes out of state.
      Suck it up…..

    • Before the cruise industry and oil (now under attack) we were a broke state with a dwindling population.

      Alaska used to tell the outside don’t come here unless you have a job due to the stunningly high unemployment and low job prospects

    • These are American owned cruise lines sailing foreign flagged ships. Whether you like it or not, Tourism is one of Alaska’s biggest industries a a large number of your fellow Alaskans depend on this industry to provide for their families. Another cancelled cruise season is absolutely devastating.

      • On its face it’s devastating but we just don’t know that those huge petri dishes can attract the numbers of tourists it takes to make them viable prior to this pandemic being under control.
        So………………………what can be done in the meantime? My idea is to push for more smaller vessels that are built and flagged in US that don’t need any such waiver. They can better navigate the possibilities of the virus IMO and don’t have the added burden of foreign crew being paid starvation wages.
        This issue should be attempted along with Young’s waiver attempt to better avoid too many cancelled cruise seasons (also IMO).

  • How about some stops in Native ports to avoid the Jones Act like Metlakatla, how many ports could be considered. Near Hoonah where technical stops could be made to work around this act…Out and backs could be Alaskan ports but also Native ports that would qualify for this type of stop. More flights into SouthCentral to start a cruise instead of Vancouver.

    • My thoughts exactly, since certain Native communities have sovereign government-to-government relations with the State and Feds, why not treat them as such?

    • Hey rocket scientist … Metlakatla and Hoonah are in the United States, State of Alaska. It is not a foreign country. They do not have a military. They do not have sovereign borders. They are not in the UN. They lost their land because they lost an invasion. Now they gain the protection and benefits of living in a modern society, a republic of states, or what is left of one. Until they break away from the US, they are in the US. This issue has to do with the construction of the ships in the US, not anything to do with stopping in unincorporated cities, or the one place reservation land exists in AK.

      FYI, a waiver was attempted for the Jones Act in the past, but Seattle shot it down for their maritime industry. IF we had a waiver, our cost of goods would go down substantially due to competition. This is also why the cost to ride the state ferry is so expensive. The ships are very expensive to build in the US due to higher wages, regulation, cost of materials, and design requirements; so there is that.

  • Why do we have this stupid law. What’s the government’s role in forcing them to stop.

    • Part of the reason for the Jones Acts was to encourage the US shipbuilding and Maritime industry. You may have read recently, as I did, that although we are in deep need of many USCG icebreakers to open , maintain and guard the Arctic, the Is no longer has the capability to build these vessels.

  • It would help these cruise ship companies cases if they would register their companies in Alaska 🙂

  • Don Young can be the first person to take a cruise to Alaska this summer to demonstrate that cruising is safe. And since he is naturally immune, it should be no problem for him.

  • You know, we are really good at spending millions trying to find a fix to a problem that we created. Stupid people making stupid laws make stupid situations. The first law is the issue…. lets just repeal it. Oh we can’t because too many unions paying off too many crook politicians. Laws getting in the way of working people. The original purpose of the law was to protect the unions. Shipbuilders unions. Government should never decide winners and losers. Laws have consequences. Do you wonder how many jobs have been lost because of this first law? Get on a cruise from Huston and go to New York. How about Seattle to San Diego. Can’t…. Entire business that never were because of stupid people making stupid laws. Why can’t we have cruise ships that go from Whittier to Ketchikan and back? The ship could be only based in Alaska for the whole summer. Sad.

    • I’m sure most American companies would be happy to pay taxes in the Bahamas and not deal with minimum wage and overtime laws.

      I’m glad they don’t.

      Think of all the jobs that would be created if we all got paid $2 an hour with no overtime!

      • Hrmm, Ok. Not sure what that has to do with anything but you go. The Jones act doesn’t change how much minimum wage is in the US. It doesn’t force companies to be US based. However I’m glad you got that off your chest. I am 100% against a minimum wage. Wages should not be dictated by the government but should be based on market forces. Very few jobs are paid at minimum wage. Why? Because of market forces. The only thing minimum wage does is jack up the price of everything thereby making those at a higher minimum wage just as poor as before. It kills entry level jobs so now your kid can’t get a job because the store can’t afford to hire a 16 year old to push carts at $15/hr. Great, now your grandma has to carry out her own groceries because the store can’t afford to hire your son to do it. That was helpful. Lets make the minimum wage $100/hr and everyone will be rich! You should ask for a refund from your school as your economics class was obviously sub par….. But once again, this has nothing to do with the article or the Jones act….

    • Before the cruise industry and oil (now under attack) we were a broke state with a dwindling population.

      Alaska used to tell the outside don’t come here unless you have a job due to the stunningly high unemployment and low job prospects

      • The Jones act does force companies to be US based, if they operate only in the US. A US flagged ship can operate a cruise from Washington to Alaska and skip Canada no problem. Foriegn ships have to stop in Canada (or fly a US flag and pay wages and taxes.)

    • Illiterate voters voted for weak candidates with weak character cause the illiterate population can’t tell the difference between their right from their left. We are the stupid ones, and majority of these leaders we voted for are taking advantage of the peoples illiteracy and ignorance.
      If you want to make a change, we’d start reading quality books to tge children around us. Encouraging them what is the purpose knowing how to read and what to read, cause reading for a lot of kids is hard cause they werent read to enough, so they cant think.

  • If you’ve never visited Don’s DC Office, it’s totally awesome. It’s like an epic Trophy Room, full of exquisite animal mounts. One should really visit it sometime.

  • Forever voter for Don. But this is horrible response time for this emergency. Should have had this ready to go before the Canadians announced their plans to turn their backs on their neighbors. Princess , Carnival, Holland and others have already canceled for this year.

    • Is this your very polite way of telling everyone that his so-called “Alaska Tourism Recovery Act” is a dud and Don Young is just a poser?

  • There is much more to the PVSA than just mandating a foreign port stop for a non-US flagged ship. Vessels are not flagged in the US for a number of reasons: Avoiding paying corporate US taxes, avoiding paying mostly foreign crew a livable wage, avoiding US laws when a crime ( like sexual assault) happens on board a ship, and avoiding compliance with environmental standards. In addition, the crew does not need work visas and do not pay individual US income taxes.

    While a waiver of the PVSA is unlikely, it is good optics for Don to at least be trying to do something. Even if a waiver somehow comes through, the cruise lines still have to deal with vaccination requirements of passengers and crew, CDC cruise guidelines that are in effect until Nov unless amended, and the cruise lines being able to crew, provision, and position their ships which will take at least 3 months.

    Would the cruise lines be willing to comply with regulations for US flagged ships on a temporary basis in order to obtain the waiver?

  • I haven’t heard one peep about the election fraud from Don. This is about number twenty on this Alaskans list.

  • And meanwhile we have not vaccinated enough Alaskans against covid-19. I think that needs to be a part of this discussion. Alaska’s isolation is one of the reasons we have fared well through this pandemic. Why does anybody want to bring this disease into the State before enough residents are vaccinated? It needs to be addressed before cruise ships start coming back.

  • End the damnable jones act.

  • Hey, wait a minute, Canada isn’t the only country that banned cruise ships . Remember last year many cruise ships were stranded last year at sea for weeks/months with no ports willing to allow them to dock. This pandemic is not over yet. Even in Juneau the Alaska Capitol is closed to the public. The Governor and Legislators all have been affected by the Coronavirus. Cruise ships are super spreaders of this disease.
    This is a health issue at 1st. Juneau should close it’s port to cruise ships. Like Canada. Or maybe move the Capitol to Willow like we voted to many years ago.

  • Well, whatever Don’s done lately what he HASN’T done is vote on the Equality Act bill. Supposedly, he didn’t vote on it in 2019 either. What the heck!??! I’m with Andy AK and Sophie in my frustration with Donny (not so) Young. If he’s too old or apathetic to vote on something of this magnitude, please appoint someone who’ll actually fulfill the obligation of the office.

  • You left out Nome there Donny boy. We want to showcase our lagacy of gambling and prostitution too, exemplified by our wayett erp bust outside city hall.

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