Cruise ship ban will make dent in peninsula tourism

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Canada’s latest decision to prohibit cruise lines from operating found in Canadian waters until 2022 is defined to possess a major effect on Alaska’s tourism sector. On the Kenai Peninsula, that influence will be felt most heavily in the City of Seward, which includes historically relied on summer cruise liner passengers to keep its economy.

Seward Mayor Christy Terry said Saturday that she was concerned about how precisely the city would adjust to another summer without cruise lines. Sales tax revenue for Seward was down by about 75% this past year, primarily for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic avoided the cruise ship market from operating in virtually any real capacity in 2020, she said.

“Hearing again that people aren’t going to possess cruise ships, we realize that this is going to be another summer where we’re really counting on our in-express tourists to make up the difference. And I must say, Alaska really came through for all of us (this past year). We'd campgrounds that were at full capability. We had an incredible fishing time of year. Our harbor was complete. People were going to the SeaLife Centre and eating locally at our eating places.”

Terry said that as the increase found in Alaskans arriving at Seward is welcome, it isn't expected to make up for the damage of cruise liner passengers. Between 2007 and 2016, Seward saw an average of about 153,000 cruise liner visitors each year, according to data from Alaska’s Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development on the Kenai Peninsula Economic Production District’s website.

Kat Sorensen, communications director for the Seward Chamber of Commerce, said Saturday that the cruise liner traffic brings a lot of money to Seward’s harbor with techniques that in-state tourists do not.

“It’s a different type of financial impact,” Sorensen said. “Whenever a cruise ship will come in, they’re refueling at the fuel docks with Shoreside, they’re giving longshoremen do the job, they’re injecting all of that money into the city, and there’s no equal to that from independent travelers.”

Terry also said she actually is hopeful that Alaska’s congressional delegation and the Point out of Alaska may potentially find a remedy that could bring the cruise ships back.

“We definitely find out it’s likely to be another hard time of year,” Terry said. “I find out the congressional delegation and the governor happen to be both working diverse angles and choices and we really hope that those will be successful.”

Canadian Minister of Transfer Omar Alghabra’s declared Thursday that cruise vessels will be banned in all Canadian waters until Feb. 28, 2022. Soon after that night time, Alaska’s Congressional Delegation - which involves Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan together with Rep. Don Adolescent -issued a news release calling your choice “unacceptable” and declaring that they might seek a remedy through legislation, if required.

“Canada’s announcement to ban all cruise sailings carrying 100 persons or more traveling through Canadian waters, without so many as a courtesy conversation with the Alaska Delegation, is not only unexpected - it really is unacceptable - and was definitely not a decision made with any consideration for Alaskans or perhaps our economy. We anticipate extra from our Canadian allies,” the delegation wrote in the Feb. 4 press release.

“Upon hearing the announcement, we immediately reached out to Canadian and American agencies to understand the rationale behind this decision - specially the duration of the ban. We are discovering all potential avenues, incorporating changing existing laws, to guarantee the cruise sector in Alaska resumes businesses as before long as it is secure. We will attack to look for a path forward.”

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy released on Facebook Fri that he would as well be looking at methods for getting the cruise ships up to Alaska this summer.

“Stopping a significant sector of Alaska’s financial system doesn’t necessarily help each of our fights the virus but will surely have enormous consequences upon Alaskan jobs and opportunities,” Dunleavy said Fri. “Canada’s decision to prohibit cruise lines this year warrants a deeper chat as to how Alaska can keep Alaskans and travelers secure. My administration will come to be working with anyone and everyone to get this back on the monitor immediately.”

While most of the cruise lines bound for the Kenai Peninsula stop in Seward, the City of Homer has recently taken in about a dozen cruise lines each summer, with the exception of 2020. Brad Anderson, executive director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce, stated Saturday that for the reason that cruise ships remain a relatively small part of Homer’s tourism market, their absence could have a comparatively minor impact.

“It’s something we'd prepared for, and we weren’t looking to have any cruise ships come here this season in any case,” Anderson said. “Here’s how we view it: We had been anticipating that more persons who want to do Alaska travelling are likely to perform it by property now. So that means more people flying into Anchorage and undertaking territory vacations, and Homer is definitely just about the most desirable areas in Alaska to go to, so that it could actually gain us if more persons travel up here.”

Alaska’s two major airfields echoed Anderson’s predictions, saying in a joint press release Friday that both airports are expecting a rise in air traffic come early July therefore of the lack of cruise ships.

“We are extremely disappointed in Canada’s decision to restrict cruise ships come early July. However, Alaska is a lot more than just a cruise vacation spot,” Jim Szczesniak, director of the Ted Stevens Anchorage AIRPORT TERMINAL, said in the Fri press release. “For this summer months, Alaska can be forecast to be just about the most popular destinations in the U.S. ANC, and our sister airport terminal FAI, provide access to the wonders of Alaska.”

The focus on attracting tourism dollars through Alaskans and air travelers is common amongst those in the market who are reckoning with the truth of another cruise-fewer summer. Tim Dillon, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Creation District, said that he will be continuing to force elected officials, like Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, on marketing that the Kenai Peninsula is definitely “open for organization.”

“Last summer season the borough mayor made most comments that got around about us being open for business,” Dillon said Saturday. “Holy cow, that next weekend, the number of campers you noticed decreasing the highway was brilliant. We are in need of Charlie to keep undertaking that. Folks are listening.”