President Joe Biden announced on May 24 via Twitter that he signed the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act. According to his Twitter “Today, I signed the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act into law. Tourism is vital to the state of Alaska—and this law will help revitalize the industry and support Alaskans by allowing large cruise ships to return to the state this summer”.
In the last year, Alaska is one of the most affected by COVID due to the state’s reliance on tourism. Based on the numbers, cruise ships provide 60% of the total number of tourists in the state. However, despite Biden signing the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act on Monday, this doesn’t mean that big ships are coming to Alaska by summer. It still needs approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to resume operations.
Alaska Tourism Restoration Act
The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act will allow cruises to sail to Alaska without stopping in Canada. What makes this law a big deal is the federal law that requires certain large ships to stop in Canada or to start their trips from there. However, Canada has barred cruise operations.
According to US Senator Lisa Murkowski, Alaska has limited opportunity for cruise travel compared to states like Florida. Their season starts late spring and extends through summer or even around early fall. She said that with the law, it is now possible to attract visitors to Alaska. Murkoski said that the passage of the bill shows the importance of not giving up.
Alaska even pressured the federal government to restart the cruise industry. Alaska along with Florida sued the CDC for preventing the cruise industry from operating in their respective states. This time around, the CDC compromised with the cruise industry by allowing them to operate under certain conditions. Cruises can operate without simulated voyages if they can meet the required number of fully vaccinated passengers and crew members.
Norwegian Cruise Lines announced that it is going to resume its operations with voyages from Seattle to Alaska. Norwegian starts August 7 through mid-October. Holland America also announced its plans to sail.