Letters to the Editor

Legislature trying to help tourism economy

I am working hard to encourage and protect our visitor industry and the economic potential of the upcoming tourism season despite the hurdles we have faced due to COVID-19.

The visitor industry is vital to our economy. According to the Alaska Travel Industry Association, not including the outlier years from COVID-19, the visitor industry generates $4.5 billion in economic activity. In 2019, 52,000 Alaskans depended on tourism for their income. Revenues to the state and municipalities combined total more than $200 million.

I have introduced House Joint Resolution 13, which urges Congress to exempt cruise ships from certain provisions of the federal Passenger Vessel Services Act. Ultimately, we want to allow cruise ships to still visit our ports even if Canadian ports are closed to large ships. Reps. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, of Sitka, Sara Hannan and Andi Story, of Juneau, have co-sponsored that piece of legislation, and Juneau Sen. Jesse Kiehl is carrying the Senate version.

I have also written a letter to state Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum requesting that the department expand vaccine eligibility to include our frontline workers in the visitor industry.

In conjunction with the work we are doing on the state level, Alaska's congressional delegation has introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act, which, if approved, would allow cruise ships to sail to Alaska without requiring them to stop in Canada.

I will continue to protect and encourage our visitor industry. Contact me with any concerns or suggestions at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov or call my office at (907) 465-3824.

Rep. Dan Ortiz


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