On 8th April, under the direction of Governor Ron DeSantis (pictured), Florida said it was to sue the Biden Administration in a federal district court to overturn what it alleged to be the unlawful CDC Conditional Sailing Order (CSO).
This unprecedented year-long lockdown of an entire industry by the US federal government has directly harmed the State of Florida, its citizens, and their families, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars in economic activity, the Governor said in a statement.
“We must allow our cruise liners and their employees to get back to work and safely set sail again,” he said. “To be clear, no federal law authorises the CDC to indefinitely impose a nationwide shutdown of an entire industry. This lawsuit is necessary to protect Floridians from the federal government’s overreach and resulting economic harm to our state.”
“Cruises are a vital part of Florida’s tourism industry—employing thousands and boosting our state’s economy. Every day the federal government unfairly keeps this economic giant docked, our economy suffers. The ripple effect of this misguided federal lockdown has far-reaching implications for the cruise industry, international tourism, businesses that would benefit from the influx of visitors, our state’s economy and the thousands of Floridians who work in the industry,” said Florida Attorney General, Ashley Moody.
“But what is even worse than the economic damage caused by this heavy-handed federal overreach is the precedent being set by an eager-to-regulate Biden administration that is unfairly singling out and keeping docked our cruise industry on the basis of outdated data. Our litigation seeks to end this federal overreach and allow Floridians to safely get back to work and travel,” she said.
“The unwillingness of the CDC to adapt its guidelines to the ever-changing nature of the country’s pandemic response unrelentlessly destroys an industry that generates hundreds of thousands of jobs and several billions of dollars to our economy. These federal bureaucrats, who have no concept of what is actually happening out in the real world, have never had to face the reality of a prolonged furlough or have had their job jeopardised by the pandemic,” added Florida Congressman, Carlos Gimenez.
“I guarantee if it were their job on the line and they had to handle the things hardworking Americans have had to face ahead of this pandemic, they would find the solution and rectify this issue immediately. It is time to hold the CDC and this Administration accountable for the damages they are committing against these hardworking Americans and for what they are doing to our local economies. I applaud Attorney General Ashley Moody for filing this lawsuit and Governor Ron DeSantis for backing these efforts,” he said.
“Unlike Florida, some have forgotten the most important element of a successful transportation system: the people and their families,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary, Kevin Thibault, PE. “The CDC’s No Sail Order remains an arbitrary policy that clearly discriminates against one transportation method, and I applaud Governor DeSantis for continuing to advocate for the cruise industry and the thousands of Florida families who are struggling to make ends meet.”
The CDC’s CSO harms the State and its citizens in at least four ways, the Governor said:
- Preventing numerous businesses and employees from earning a living.
- Contributing to our State’s unemployment.
- Exacerbating the massive shortfalls in revenues experienced by our State’s seaports.
- Reducing state and local taxes associated with the cruise industry.
On the same day, Alaska Governor, Mike Dunleavy sent a letter to the Biden administration, which contained the State of Alaska’s Impacts from 2020/2021 Cruise Ship Season Cancellation report.
It detailed the economic impacts and attributed a $3 bill gross state product loss each year the cruise season does not take place.
Alaska’s port communities have been severely impacted by the loss of cruise ships in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the pandemic. The recent extension of the CSO through November, 2021 ensures that no cruise ships will bring passengers to Alaskan communities for the 2021 season.
The report, composed by Alaska’s Department of Revenue, the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, and the Department of Labour and Workforce Development, outlines the material impact of the CDC action, in conjunction with the Canadian decision to not allow cruise ships to port, on the State of Alaska, local communities, and businesses.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) reported 40 cruise ships visited the region, carrying 1.36 mill passengers on 577 voyages in 2019.
“Alaskans who depend on the summer tourism season to make a living waited anxiously, with hopes, that the COVID-19 vaccines would allow the return to normal, and for cruise ships to enter our ports again.
“The CDC’s recent decision to extend the 2020 CSO effectively eliminates any potential for a 2021 cruise ship sailing season, and places the future of thousands of Alaskan families’ businesses in peril,” Governor Dunleavy said in a letter addressed to Jeff Zients, Counselor to the President. “The negative impact of this decision to our economy and people of Alaska, specifically Southeast Alaska, is staggering. It is estimated that the cancelled cruise ship season in 2020, in addition to the potential cancellation of the 2021 season, will result in a loss to the State of Alaska’s domestic product of over $3.3 bill.”
“The severe economic losses that are impacting our port and cruise communities has a multiplier impact that trickles throughout our entire economy; resulting in lost revenues, taxes, jobs and small business closures,” said Alaska’s Department of Revenue Commissioner, Lucinda Mahoney. “The cruise industry is crucial to the state’s financial well-being.”
Alaska has experienced significant job losses because of the pandemic and will continue to experience losses because of the CDC ruling on cruise travel. Port and Cruise line related Communities have seen a collective 22,297 in job losses as compared to the previous year representing over $305.7 mill in wages lost.
“The Cruise Ship industry is a major artery of the Alaskan economy. When one vital sector hemorrhages, the entire state suffers,” said DOLWD Commissioner, Dr Tamika Ledbetter.
“The cruise and tourism industries are a significant economic driver in the state,” said DCCED Commissioner, Julie Anderson. “As indicated, numerous communities and businesses are struggling to survive due to the loss of cruise ships in 2020 and 2021. It is imperative that we resolve these issues and implement programs to provide a path to sustainability.”
The impact of a no-sail order on local communities amounts to $98.6 mill in lost revenue each year. Skagway saw a 48% reduction in total wage base and the total losses are estimated to exceed 100% of their annual operating budget.
A 2020 survey anticipated only 26% of Ketchikan tourism-related businesses could withstand a delayed restart of the tourism industry. Interior Alaska estimated that over 160,000 cruise passengers would have visited in 2020, the State of Alaska claimed.
“I am reaching out with the simple request that you have the CDC update its guidance to enable cruise lines and ports to resume operations. It’s my hope that (federal authorities) are willing to work with me and other governors seeking to bring back the cruise ship industry,” Governor Dunleavy said in his letter.