Alaska voters will decide on a cruise ship fee of $50 per passenger in the Aug. 22 primary election. If passed, this measure will raise between $50 million and $80 million annually for local, waterfront projects. One overlooked aspect is how well the passenger fee now works in Juneau. Ten years ago, voters placed a $5 fee on the local ballot. It passed, and the results have been tremendous.
Dealing with 1 million cruise passengers annually, plus many crew members, Juneau now has adequate funding for a safe cruise dock, widened sidewalks, emergency services, expanded bus service, small boat harbor improvements and a marine park. All these facilities and services are used by summer cruise passengers and by local residents year-round.
With a $50 state fee, the state can then fund other Alaska communities to upgrade and improve waterfront services, as the cruise business shows no signs of decrease.
Importantly, the foreign-owned cruise ship industry is experiencing record profits and returns on their Alaska investments and, under new federal law, any passenger fee monies collected must be spent on local harbor projects. A fair passenger fee is a win-win situation for Alaska.
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