There’s a line from the Watergate investigations, “follow the money”. While I may accept that some of the issues and concerns of the tax proponents does come from a heartfelt sincere desire to protect shores and waterways, I’m highly suspect of their simplistic arguments. At no time during my Alaskan cruise was I ever directed to a specific restaurant or destination ‘owned’ by a cruise line. This is one unvalidated claim made by tax supporters. Availability drives pricing more than is being acknowledged. One can cruise the Caribbean 365 days a year; not so Alaska. Supply and demand are at the heart of the economics in this discussion. In ‘following the money’ one has to ask just who benefits from this proposed new taxation. There is mention besides imposing a $50 fee, the ballot measure would put an independent pollution
monitor on ships and levy a 33 percent tax on the money ships make from gambling while in Alaska. Just who would pay for these onboard monitors to perform these tasks of monitoring and accounting hasn’t been decided. If taxing the ship’s casino revenues proves substantive might one expect to see more applications to build casinos
across Alaska? Just wondering.
To further complicate the issue is the assertion of the taxers to make the cruise lines and their passengers pay for the upgrades and improvements to harbor areas and docking ports. In fairness, if the cruise lines build and maintain them, who should own them? Aside from cruise ships, ferry ships, ply the waters with more regularity and for longer periods of time than any cruise ship. Will the new taxes be applied equally amongst all waterway using craft? In St. Marteen, Carnival spearheaded the drive to construct the beautiful port that ships now dock at and St. Marteen has constructed an equally beautiful area of shops and stores approaching the road into town. An act driven by mutual needs and benefits. Not an activity conducted at the end of a taxation gun. The attitude of,”Where else will the ships go?”, is naieve at best and arrogant in the worst. When and if, the Jones Act is repealed or modified [a long over due adjustment in this writers opinion] ships will be able to travel within the United States without the mandatory stop in a non-U.S. port of call. There are easily a half dozen ports of call between San Diego
that could be substituted for Alaska itineraries. Granted, aspects of scenery and wildlife are not as bountiful but that in no way eliminates the multiplicity of sites along the west coast of America with their own highly unique and special appeals. It will be a shame in a simplicity for this issue to become law. And an economic travesty of foreseeable and thus, avoidable consequences. The ramifications have not been fairly discussed and the consequences or fallout will create more than just hard feelings for years to come. I’m hard pressed to comprehend the taxers drive to ‘Kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.” Perhaps a flock of tourists are fair game to be fleeced!! Aesop would write another fable to be sure.