EDITOR, Daily News:
I am working hard to encourage and protect our visitor industry and the economic potential for the upcoming tourism season, a tourism season despite of 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 over $200 million.
I have introduced House Joint Resolution 13, which urges Congress to exempt cruise ships from certain provisions of the 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, Sara Hannan and Andi Story have co-sponsored that piece of legislation, and Sen. Jesse Kiehl is carrying the Senate version.
I also have written a letter to Alaska 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, our federal delegation has introduced the Alaska Tourism Recovery Act, which will allow cruise ships to sail to Alaska without requiring them to stop in Canada.
I will continue to protect and incentivize our visitor industry. Feel free to contact me with any concerns or suggestions at Rep.Dan.Ortiz@AKLeg.gov or calling my office.
REP. DAN ORTIZ
House District 36