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President Biden signs Alaska Tourism Recovery Act into law

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 4:04 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Monday, May 24, President Joe Biden signed into law the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act.

The signing ceremony, attended by Alaska’s congressional delegation, comes after the bill passed in the House of Representatives last week.

The bill temporarily allows large cruise ships to bypass Canada on the way from Washington to the 49th state.

Canada currently prohibits passenger vessels from stopping at Canadian ports or traveling through their waters over COVID-19 concerns.

Gray Television’s D.C. Bureau affiliate Peter Zampa spoke to Senator Lisa Murkowski about the ceremony.

“We’re pleased that the president saw fit to sign this as quickly as he did, following the swift action in the House,” Murkowski said.

According to the senator, only 48 passengers arrived in Alaska by cruise ship during the 2020 tourist season, compared with 1.3 million in 2019. “This is about restoring some aspect of a tourist season for the many, many, many Alaskan operators who count on visitors who come to our state, people who’ve said ‘I want to see Alaska before I die. It’s the trip of a lifetime,’ and now they’ll have an opportunity to do so.”

She continued by explaining, “What we have been working to do is not trying to save the cruise industry. What we’re trying to save are the many, many small mom and pop operators in Alaska, in our coastal communities in Southeast, in our Interior communities along the rail belt, folks up in the Interior, trying to get some semblance of a tourist season back.”

Some tourism companies have already begun booking cruises for as early as July.

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