Governor Sean Parnell recently signed legislation that will create economic growth for small businesses throughout Alaska. The governor signed Senate Bill 312, legislation that reduces the cruise passenger head tax from $46 per head to $34.50 per head.
Reversing the decline in visitor travel has been a focus of the Parnell administration. Governor Parnell introduced legislation after he met with small business owners and visitor industry leaders and learned of the detrimental effects on local businesses due to the excise tax.
“I remain committed to helping Alaska regain its former position as a growing and vibrant destination,” Governor Parnell said. “Passage of this bill sends a clear message that Alaska values visitors and tourism investment. Alaska’s families, businesses and communities are better positioned now for tourism growth.”
The visitor industry accounts for more than 40,000 Alaska jobs during the peak summer months and $3.4 billion in direct and indirect spending. After many years of growth, Alaska experienced a sharp decline in visitation in 2009 and again in 2010. Over this two-year period, the state lost more than 260,000 visitors, $420 million in direct and indirect spending, and up to 5,000 jobs.
With the governor’s signature, the state has satisfied an agreement with the Alaska Cruise Association that calls for the industry trade group to drop its lawsuit against the state to nullify the excise tax.
“On behalf of Carnival Corporation and our three companies that operate cruises to Alaska, I want to thank [Governor Parnell] for taking the lead in this important effort. The result is a reasonable resolution to the head tax and regulatory issues that contributed to the unprecedented decline in cruise passengers this year,” wrote Mickey Arison, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Carnival Corporation, in a letter to the governor. “We are hopeful that this, combined with increased marketing will stimulate a return to growth in cruising in Alaska.”
Office of Governor Sean Parnell