On June 3, the Seattle Metro Chamber joined the Port of Seattle and other regional partners in thanking Sen. Maria Cantwell her for her leadership on the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act, which will restart our region’s cruise season by allowing ships departing Washington state to go directly to Alaska, temporarily lifting the requirement to stop at a foreign, Canadian port.
Prior to Congressional approval of this bill, our cruise season was on hold despite updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance because Canada still has its cruise ban in effect.
The loss of the 2020 Alaska cruise season struck a significant economic blow to maritime, business, tourism and cruise provisioning companies throughout the Puget Sound region. As Crosscut reported, “Heading into the canceled 2020 season, the port expected over 1.3 million passengers boarding 225 different sailings from seven major cruise lines. The [Port of Seattle] estimates that each ship call translates to $4.2 million in economic activity and that the industry supports some 5,500 jobs in Washington.”
Another year without these activities because of the Canadian cruise ban would have been a truly daunting barrier to our region’s economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Alaska Tourism Recovery Act removes this hurdle, allowing us to move forward toward a safe and healthy restart of the cruise season in partnership with local and state public health agencies and the CDC.
Senator Cantwell’s work on this legislation was a significant undertaking: moving it through the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent, working with colleagues on all sides of the issue and keeping the bill focused on core issues. The fact that the Senate had to vote twice on this legislation, once on the Senate version and then again on the House version, makes the achievement even more exceptional.
You can read more about the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act and what cruise lines are working to book sailings out of Seattle here. You can read the letter we sent here.