Saturday, October 23, 2021

Economic impact of Alaska cruise ship bill would be ‘devastating’: BC port official

Vancouver—Two US bills proposed by a congressman and senator intended to allow cruise ships going to Alaska to bypass Canadian ports would have a “disastrous” effect on British Columbia’s economy, said the head of Victoria’s port authority. have to say.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski proposed a bill on September 16 that would allow cruise ships to carry more than 1,000 passengers and would force Alaska to be permanently exempt from the Passenger Vessel Services Act.

Under this act, foreign-built ships are not allowed to carry passengers between two US ports without stopping in a foreign country.

“(The act) had the unintended consequence of putting Alaska businesses at the mercy of the Canadian government,” she said during an address to the Southeast Conference annual meeting.

“It nearly wiped out the economies of southeastern Alaska as we looked to business after business to welcome visitors, but were unable to do so because Canadians were able to meet the PVSA requirement to allow overseas stops at their ports. will not respond to our requests. We can’t let this happen again.”

Under the proposed law, foreign cruise ships carrying more than 1,000 passengers can bypass Canadian ports if they wish.

Greater Victoria Harbor Authority CEO Ian Robertson said the bill would hurt the economies of Victoria and British Columbia.

“I am both shocked and disappointed,” Robertson said in an interview. “It would be devastating.”

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He said cruises bring in about $143 million annually to Victoria’s economy and create hundreds of jobs.

But Robertson said he believes the province is taking the threat of economic impact more seriously than it did in the spring, when a bill was quickly introduced in the US House of Representatives aimed at accommodating the same law. and was passed.

Premier John Horgan initially said the legislation was a “blip” at the time, unlikely to be passed quickly, before meeting with US officials.

Cruise ships were banned during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic over concerns about spreading the virus, but the ban is set to be lifted on November 1.

Robertson said the next federal government needs to take the issue seriously after Monday’s election.

“It’s a file that requires all hands on deck,” he said. “There is a need to advocate at the highest level.”

BC Tourism Minister Rob Fleming said in a statement that he is working with industry leaders and their federal counterparts to raise awareness of the issue.

“The cruise ship industry is vital to BC tourism, and to the thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the regular arrival of ships,” he said.

Fleming said Horgan raised the issue with Canadian Ambassador to the US and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

by Nick Wells

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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