As the pandemic keeps cruise ships grounded, many people are eagerly awaiting cruise ships’ return to their hometowns. While the cruise industry supports many local businesses and families, it seems not everyone is a fan of cruise ships in Juneau, Alaska.
While Alaska is thinking about lawsuits against the CDC to restart Alaskan Cruise tourism, a group of local activists, organized under a global effort called the Global Cruise Activist Network has filed several amendments to the city government to limit the days cruise ships can come to the port, limit the maximum tonnage of ships allowed to dock, and place limits on the time the ships can stay in port.
The amendments will still need to be put to the vote, and for now, it seems unlikely to be pushed through as more and more people call for a strong return of cruises to Alaska. However, recent legislation in Key West, the Cayman Islands, and Venice, Italy, could prove to be a turning point for Juneau, Alaska.
Move Will Limit Cruise Ships To Juneau
Local activist Karla Hart has filed the amendments. Hart is the founder of the Global Cruise Activist Network, which has recently also been active in the discussion of cruise ships sailing in the Cayman Islands. The activist said the following to Alaskan news outlet Alaska Public Media:
“I’m a big believer in direct democracy, and this is a chance for us to say if we think that there are too many people coming on cruise ships to Juneau. And to say if we think that people in Juneau want to have evenings quiet and for ourselves in the community and people who are staying over. And whether we want Saturdays for ourselves in the community and for people staying over.”
The amendments the activist network are proposing are as follows:
- Ban big cruise ships in town between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
- Ban cruise ships on Saturdays.
- Ban cruise ships over 100.000 gross tonnes size beginning in 2026.
While the proposed measures are reasonable at first glance, they could set a dangerous precedent for residents who need the cruise industry for their income. The third point’s implementation would decimate Alaskan cruise tourism by 90%, banning major cruise lines entirely due to the size of ships.
A similar decision in Key West was made in Key West not so long ago, where the community voted to limit the number of daily cruise ship visitors at 1,500 and prohibit cruise ships with 1,300 passengers or more from docking.
What would the financial impact be?
Cruise ships bring thousands of tourists to Juneau, Alaska, injecting millions of dollars to the local economy each year. A reduction of the number or size of cruise ships coming to the popular cruise port would significantly impact the local economy. However, hart sees it different:
“We could build a tourism industry in Juneau that consists of overnighting tourists, who come on an appropriate scale to our community, and who put more money into the economy per person in spending. The money that they spend is money that will stay in the economy longer.”
Whether or not that is true remains to be seen. In the Federal maritime Commissioner’s latest report, the financial impact for Juneau is significant. The report states that in 2019, Juneau had over 1.3 million visitors from cruise ships. Around 98% of all cruise visitors to Alaska stopped in Juneau.
One local business owner described the absence of the cruise industry and how it affects their tour business:
“We had to issue over $50,000 in pre-booking refunds over the last three months. We generally work with approximately 15,000 cruise passengers in a summer, and all that business appears to be lost, based on the cruise projections and our sales over the last few years, I expect approximately $1M loss in gross sales”
Cruise visitors spent an average of $162 each in Juneau, $95 on tours/activities/entertainment, $53 on gifts/souvenirs/clothing, $12 food/beverage, and $2 other. Cruise line expenditures included $9.1 million in dockage/moorage fees.
The direct economic impact of the industry to the Juneau area in 2016 was $238 million, responsible for 2,150 jobs (full and part-time), and $77 million in wages.
A decision to limit cruise line activity in Juneau could significantly impact the local economy, leading to an even larger loss of economic activity than the previous year, and the partial cancelation of the Alaskan season this year has seen.