Murkowski welcomes first cruise ship to Alaska since 2019
“Today marks an important step on the road to Alaska’s economic recovery”
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today joined heads of state and community members in Ketchikan to welcome the first major cruise ship to Alaska since the 2019 season. Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas arrived at the port of Ketchikan this morning to serve as the state’s test cruise – with volunteer passengers – to demonstrate to the CDC the implementation of COVID-19 mitigation protocols. Following today’s simulated trip, 78 departures are currently scheduled to Alaska for the remainder of the 2021 season. At the event, hosted by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Senator Murkowski received an award in recognition of his leadership in passing the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA).
“I am pleased to welcome the first major cruise ship of the 2021 season. Tourism is vital for hundreds of Alaskan small businesses and thousands of employees. I am committed to helping bring tourism back for the 2021 season and keeping Alaskans afloat through the hardships created by the pandemic. This was an effort on deck to find a solution to the 2021 cruise ship season and provide a much needed economic boost to our communities. I want to thank the other members of the delegation for working with me to cross the finish line to my law, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act. This law made it possible to begin bringing cruise ships back to Alaska – so our communities could have a productive tourist season. Today marks an important milestone on Alaska’s path to economic recovery from the pandemic. “
In 2019, Alaska welcomed more than 1.3 million visitors via cruise ships. That number came to a halt in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated mandates, decimating small businesses in Alaska and the economy of Alaska as a whole. Alaska’s tourism industry typically generates over $ 214 million in government and municipal revenue, over $ 1.4 billion in payrolls, and $ 2.2 billion in visitor spending, all of which have seen declines. significant during the coronavirus pandemic.
Senator Murkowski has worked diligently to ensure that large cruise ships can return to Alaska to provide economic opportunities for communities and small businesses that rely heavily on tourism. Its legislation, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act (ATRA), which was enacted on May 24, 2021, provides a temporary solution under the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), paving the way for the resumption of cruise ship operations. and passenger transportation between Washington State and Alaska State. Due to the Canadian ban on passenger ships traveling in Canadian waters, large cruise ships sailing to Alaska could not have made it to Alaska this summer because the PVSA requires a stopover in a foreign country.
- On May 24, the Congressional delegation from Alaska attended a ceremony at the White House where the president enacted ATRA.
- On May 20, ATRA passed the United States House of Representatives.
- On May 13, ATRA passed the US Senate.
- On May 13, Representative Young sent a letter DHS Secretary Mayorkas urging him to work with Canadian authorities to accept technical stops in Canadian waters to meet the requirements of the Passenger Ship Services Act.
- On May 11, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan wrote letters urging Canada to reconsider the ban on passenger ships in Canadian ports and waters, and asking the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to accept technical stops in Canada to comply with the Passenger Ship Services Act (PVSA), which currently restricts the transportation of passengers by cruise ships between Washington State and the State of Alaska.
- On April 30, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan spoke in the Senate, urging their Senate colleagues to review and pass S. 593, the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act.
- On March 26, the Alaska Congressional delegation sent a letter with colleagues to Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID response coordinator, urging the Biden administration to be more transparent and timely in its efforts to elaborate guidance for resuming operations for the cruise ship industry. .
- On March 19, the two Senators met in person with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Anchorage, AK, and discussed Canadian border closures and sent a follow-up letter on March 24, reiterating and stressing the need to work. together to address Canadian border closures.
- On March 5, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan introduced the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act to ease PVSA restrictions on cruise ships carrying passengers between Washington State and Alaska State.
- On February 24, Congressman Don Young Introduces Alaska Tourism Revival Act in the House of Representatives.
- On February 13, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, urging him to work with the Alaska Congressional delegation on the COVID-19 travel restrictions in an attempt to limit the negative impacts on voters in Alaska and Canada.
- On February 4, the Alaska Congressional delegation responded to an announcement by the Canadian Minister of Transport regarding two new interim orders that ban pleasure craft in Canadian Arctic waters and cruise ships in all Canadian waters. until February 28, 2022.
- On February 4, Congressman Young sent a letter to President Biden’s adviser Jeffrey Zients urging the administration to work with the Alaskan tourism sector, which continues to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19 on trips. Additionally, Congressman Young calls for collaboration with the administration in light of Canada’s announcement that their ports will remain closed to cruise ship traffic until 2022.
- In October 2020, in an effort to resolve the U.S.-Canada border crossing issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Senators Murkowski, Sullivan, Congressman Young, and Governor Mike Dunleavy ( R-AK) sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise specific issues severely affecting Alaskans due to border crossing restrictions due to COVID-1. In its letter, the delegation of Alaska highlighted specific and persistent challenges impacting the health and safety of the people of Alaska and offered reasonable solutions.