SOUTHEAST, ALASKA: Because there were no cruise vessels call on ports in Alaska, they faced a devastating year in 2020. This is due to the global COVID-19 health pandemic. The cities on the itineraries rely on tourism. They say that having ships return in 2021 is critical for their survival.
Cruise Industry makes 95 Percent of the Town’s Overall Revenue
Andrew Cremata, borough mayor for the popular Alaskan cruise port of Skagway remarked on the existing situation faced by his town, and numerous other port of call in Southeast Alaska, at a panel discussion at the virtual Seatrade conference on Wednesday.
“This is about survival for Skagway,” said Cremata. He said that the cruise industry makes up as much as 95% of the town’s overall revenue.
“It is essential for our small businesses that they are able to engage the ship companies and the cruise ship passengers in a normal way. The local businesses are going to go 17 months in a best-case scenario without any revenue. April, May of 2021 represents the chance to right the ship.”
The cruise industry has mandated new COVID-19 protocols: Testing, masks, ventilation
The Ships’ Return boggled down by Regulations and Border Closure
Massive job losses and stark economic effects have plagued the Alaska cruise industry. They are the result of both the U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s no-sail order. As well as Transport Canada’s current ban on cruise operations within Canadian waters. These orders are now in effect through October 31, 2020.
The closure of the Canada-U.S. border for Cremata has also further served to isolate his town. The Canada-U.S. border is now not open to all non-essential travel until October 21. It is thought to stay shuttered through the end of the year.
“We are concerned about when that border will open,” said Cremata. “Even if we saw a reduction in ship capacity moving into 2021, that…will keep us alive.”
Peter Xotta, vice president, planning and operations with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority which manages the city’s Canada Place cruise terminal, stated that the health and safety protocols being created by the cruise lines, along with the major impact on tourism dollars on the West Coast, will help in easing restrictions.