SEATTLE - Canada is extending a ban on cruise ships from sailing on its waters and entering its ports until February 28, 2022.
Travel experts said this ban will sink the cruise ships before the Alaska season begins in May.
"Hotels are not going to be full because people aren’t going to be traveling to Seattle, the airlines aren’t going to be bringing people to Seattle, that’s going to hurt. We have many negative economic impacts from what the Canadians have done," said Steve Danishek, President of TMA Travel.
The Alaska cruise industry in Seattle is worth $500 million, according to Danishek, and he said the bigger impact would be the loss of local and state tax revenue which is worth about $19 million.
"Shocking, honestly, and it’s really sad because it brings our economy down here in the summer months at least," said Alex Thao, the assistant manager of Earthbound Trading Company.
The Bohemian-inspired store is located on Pine Street between Pike Place Market and Westlake in Seattle.
"It’s crazy, there’s nobody, and just boards everywhere. Yeah, it’s been very quiet. It’ll probably be another summer of slow business if cruise ships cannot come through," said Thao.
Several states away in Florida, Katherine Hasselman had big plans to fly into Seattle and set sail on a 2020 cruise to Alaska, which was cancelled.
"I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Seattle and doing the touristy things, while my girlfriend and her mother never have, so we were going to tack on a couple extra days and enjoy taking them around," said Hasselman.
Hasselman said she now has a travel voucher with the Holland America Line. The cruise company said in a statement to Q13 News that unless the U.S. or Canadian authorities take action, the Alaska cruise season this year is cancelled.
"I think at this point the running joke now is we’ve been planning it for ten years now, what’s another ten," said Hasselman.
The Port of Seattle estimated the Alaska cruise industry supported 5,500 jobs and $260 million in income in 2019, according to Jacob Vigdor, a professor of public policy and governance at the University of Washington.
"So calling off the cruise season in 2021 will cost the regional economy that amount," said Vigdor. "The most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the Seattle metro area is down about 150,000 jobs due to the pandemic. So this is a relatively small share of them. Nonetheless it's an indicator that we won't be getting back to "normal" for at least another six months, possibly more."
Holland America Line said in a statement:
While this is beyond our control, we remain committed to operating any portion of our Alaska season and we are hopeful that positive progress relative to the pandemic accelerates to the point that the Canadian Transport Minister will rescind the interim order and allow cruise vacations to resume in 2021.
A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said in a statement:
We are currently studying the Order and its implications and have not canceled our cruises that visit Canadian ports. We are currently exploring several initiatives that may allow such cruises to continue, especially for the important Alaska season. Given the fluidity of the current environment, we will also continue to work with the Canadian government to amend their current suspension.