Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Passenger Tax in Alaska Could Drop More than 50%

From USA Today:

Alaska's cruise passenger head tax could end up falling from to $46 to $19.50 on most inside passage itineraries, according to the final bill Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell submitted late last week.

The 59% reduction would more than double the 25% cut that Parnell proposed less than two weeks ago, because the new bill contains a provision to offset local head taxes in Juneau and Ketchikan, of $8 and $7, respectively.

After submitting the new proposal to Alaska's legislature last week, Parnell said in a statement on his website that, "Alaska's tourism head tax structure must be modified to grow our Alaska businesses... Declining visitor numbers and dollars have been felt throughout the state. We must do more to make Alaska a more affordable destination for travelers and create jobs for Alaskans."

Alaska's Legislature has until April 18 to decide on the reduction.

Most major lines operating in Alaska including Princess , Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have reduced capacity to Alaska significantly this year, citing the state's high taxes and fees.

Cruise line executives agreed that if Alaska were to cut the head tax, it would drop a federal lawsuit against the state to repeal the tax, and would increase ship capacity to the state.

Carnival Corp. Chairman and CEO Micky Arison said during a conference call last week to discuss first quarter earnings, that the proposal to cut the passenger head tax was "a good first step," but warned that a buildup of capacity would take years.

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