On 13th May, the US Senate approved the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act.
This act is designed to allow large ships to operate cruises to Alaska this summer. It provides a waiver of the US cabotage laws.
However, it now goes to the US House for approval before it can be sent to President Joe Biden to sign off.
The Act was described as a simple and direct measure that states that a roundtrip voyage transporting passengers between a port or place in the State of Alaska and a port or place in the State of Washington is deemed a foreign voyage for purposes of US law. The act remains in effect through February, 2022.
It was conceived to circumvent Canada’s decision to close its ports to large cruise ships until 2022.
Under the US Passenger Vessel Services Act, all foreign flag passenger ships are required to stop at a foreign port when transporting US citizens between two domestic ports.
Large cruise ships usually sailed either from Vancouver, Canada, or Seattle, Washington to Alaska.
“This has been a struggle to get everyone pulling together, but I think we are at a place where there is a glimmer of hope for Alaska’s tourism industry,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski who along with Senator Dan Sullivan had co-sponsored the Senate bill.
Previous efforts to get the act passed had been stalled by efforts to expand its content to incorporate other safety requirements on the cruise ships.
On Thursday, Senator Sullivan tweeted, “This is an important and encouraging step, but we aren’t done yet. The Dean of the House, Representative Don Young, will next be working with his colleagues to quickly pass the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act in the House.”