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Old Sep 1, 06, 5:18 pm   #1
 
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Alaska to charge each cruise ship passenger a $50 head tax

According to USA Today, within 90 days Alaska will charge a $50 fee per cruise passenger. If cruise lines pass this fee along to their passengers, Alaska will charge cruise lines even more fees, like a 33% tax on casino profits while ships are in Alaska and a corporate tax. Here is the link to the article:

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/desti...s_x.htm?csp=34

Will this affect your cruising to Alaska? I know it's not a lot of money for two, considering how much an Alaskan cruise can cost, but I object to the principle of being gouged.
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Old Sep 1, 06, 5:28 pm   #2
 
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This is a very volatile issue in Alaska tourism circles and it impacts more than just the passenger's side of paying more. Without getting into the politics, here's some food for thought.

Alaska is planning to impose more financial controls and taxes on the cruise lines that serve the destination than any other place in the world. The real question now has to be --- if you ran one of those cruise lines in Alaska and were facing these outrageous fees next year, would you "just say no" and reposition your ships to another destination that is a "hot" cruise market where you can fill ships and make money - like Europe?

There's a long legal battle in the next 6+ months over the points in this bill. Thankfully Alaska is a seasonal cruise market and by the time the 90 day period to start rolls around, all the ships will be far away in much warmer places. This will be a good one to keep an eye on.
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Old Sep 1, 06, 7:00 pm   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbalaska
would you "just say no" and reposition your ships to another destination that is a "hot" cruise market where you can fill ships and make money - like Europe?
I agree that the new tax may be a long legal battle, but there is not a lot of choice for the cruiselines. Putting more ships in Europe or the Med would have those small areas looking like Lake Havasu or the Party Cove at Lake of the Ozarks. PAAAAARTY!!!
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Old Sep 1, 06, 7:15 pm   #4
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As a frequent cruiser to AK, I’m against this tax as I’m against new taxes in general. Or taxes period but that’s a topic for another thread.

But I think AK can pull this off as it is a unique destination that really has no equal. It’s not like the cruise lines could select an “almost” Alaska destination for their customer base.

Cruises to AK are very popular and I’m guessing very profitable judging from the fares I’ve paid on my cruises.

For every cruise ship or cruise line who pulled out of AK in protest, I’m guessing their are a bunch of others who would gladly take their place.
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Old Sep 1, 06, 7:34 pm   #5
 
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I'm an Alaskan who voted in favor of the tax. To make a long argument short, my main motivation is to see that companies from the Outside (ie ALL the cruiseship companies that operate up here) pay for using Alaska's resources. The amazing scenery and wonderful crusing water are a resource, just like our oil...
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Old Sep 1, 06, 8:10 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eastwest
I'm an Alaskan who voted in favor of the tax. To make a long argument short, my main motivation is to see that companies from the Outside (ie ALL the cruiseship companies that operate up here) pay for using Alaska's resources. The amazing scenery and wonderful crusing water are a resource, just like our oil...
I agree they should pay something, and I wouldn't have even minded just the $50 head tax. I don't think that would influence too many visitors who are taking the "trip of a lifetime."

However, I do take exception to the corporate income tax, 33% take of casino revenues, disclosure of commission rates for land-based tour options (shore excursions) and the cruise ranger, or whatever it is they call the state's environmental watchdog employee who they have to give a free cabin to on every sailing in Alaska waters, These are unprecedented in the cruise industry and just plain greedy. I don't think most Alaskans get it about the potential economic impact to them.
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Old Sep 1, 06, 8:19 pm   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbalaska
However, I do take exception to the corporate income tax, 33% take of casino revenues, disclosure of commission rates for land-based tour options (shore excursions) and the cruise ranger, or whatever it is they call the state's environmental watchdog employee who they have to give a free cabin to on every sailing in Alaska waters, These are unprecedented in the cruise industry and just plain greedy. I don't think most Alaskans get it about the potential economic impact to them.
Most taxes on tourists and travellers to a state are greedy. But that doesn’t stop states from happily collecting them.
My pet peeve is the gut-wrenching taxes that many cities and states hit us with under the veil of “occupancy taxes” on hotel rooms and “airport recovery fees” on rental cars.
Not much we can do as visitors to the state. We certainly can’t vote the legislators out of office.
They know this and have us over a barrel.
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Old Sep 1, 06, 11:25 pm   #8
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I am an Alaskan, when we take a cruise to southern climates- the taxes are higher than Alaska cruises presently. A 7 day cruise-to Alaska- on the Princess site shows approx. $73.00 for taxes- A 7 day cruise to the Western Caribbean the taxes are $116- and you do not have anywhere close to the scenery, wildlife, and etc.- you see on an Alaskan Cruise. The funds will be used directly for tourism related costs- i.e. docks, harbors, trails, viewing areas by glaciers, streams, and etc.- The reason for an inspector on a ship to be sure that our waters are not poluted- that our wonderful waters will produce the safe and abundant seafood we have now, and ship throughout the world. The gambling- well, all other states tax the gambling that happens in thier state- And.. re disclosure of the commissions and advertizing done on the ship- is consumer protection- many first time cruisers- do not know that the "recommended shops" pay for the opportunity to be "recommended"- they may or may not be the best priced or the most reliable.

That is why the majority of Alaskans pass the inititive. The cruise industry spent well over 1 million dollars trying to convince us that "we did not understand"- to bad they didn't spend that money on more productive, concrete things- we did understatnd- - we enjoy all the folks that come to see our great state, but it costs money to provide the necessary infrastructures for all our guests.
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Old Sep 2, 06, 3:04 am   #9
 
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I was until recently an Alaska resident and I voted for the tax. I think the industry's PR campaign really backfired- it was hectoring and condescending.

Since 9/11 cruise traffic in Alaska has increased incredibly- it is really the only "domestic" market for US cruisers and is one of the few places in the world that one can see a tidewater glacier, for example. As a result many Southeast cities and towns are just swamped by tourists.

The vote for the tax was a reaction to all these things. The cruise lines are promoting an "Alaska" consisting of cruise-owned shops, excursions and attractions. All the revenue goes out of state while the costs stay in state. The tax is an attempt to make the cruise ships pay their own way.
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Old Sep 2, 06, 4:32 am   #10
 
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If what I read on this thread were true. it would be preferable for Alaska to ban cruise ships.
No need for pollution monitors
No more port infrastructure improvements
No more southeast cities swamped by tourists
No more cruise industry bogus PR campaigns
No need for trail improvements, scenic ovelooks, etc.
Three years from now you will have to increase the tax because there were more people ( more revenue) or less revenue (less people) than anticipated.
Get Real; if you want to rip people off just do it. This is no different than any other tax hike: less than 10% of the revenues collected will go toward the projects for which the revenue was intended. We should all lobby Ted Stevens to drop the "bridge to nowhere" tax that he manged to have imposed on all US citizens and just up the cruise ship ante to $100 per person At least foreign visitors will be helping to fund it (instead of lending us the money used to fund it).
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Old Sep 2, 06, 7:38 am   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlb
I am an Alaskan, when we take a cruise to southern climates- the taxes are higher than Alaska cruises presently. A 7 day cruise-to Alaska- on the Princess site shows approx. $73.00 for taxes- A 7 day cruise to the Western Caribbean the taxes are $116- and you do not have anywhere close to the scenery, wildlife, and etc.- you see on an Alaskan Cruise. The funds will be used directly for tourism related costs- i.e. docks, harbors, trails, viewing areas by glaciers, streams, and etc.- The reason for an inspector on a ship to be sure that our waters are not poluted- that our wonderful waters will produce the safe and abundant seafood we have now, and ship throughout the world. The gambling- well, all other states tax the gambling that happens in thier state- And.. re disclosure of the commissions and advertizing done on the ship- is consumer protection- many first time cruisers- do not know that the "recommended shops" pay for the opportunity to be "recommended"- they may or may not be the best priced or the most reliable.

That is why the majority of Alaskans pass the inititive. The cruise industry spent well over 1 million dollars trying to convince us that "we did not understand"- to bad they didn't spend that money on more productive, concrete things- we did understatnd- - we enjoy all the folks that come to see our great state, but it costs money to provide the necessary infrastructures for all our guests.
In response....
1. Taxes are NOT based on scenery, wildlife, etc. People choose different cruises for different reasons and less than 10% of all cruisers take them to Alaska. 53% go to the Caribbean so your argument that cruisers should pay more tax to see wildlife and scenery is not good. The demand just isn't there. Most people would rather lie on a beach or cruise to warm tropical locales.

2. The funds WILL NOT be used directly for tourism related costs and infrastructure - and certainly not for tourism marketing to bring more people to the entire state - not just SouthEast. The funds are earmarked to go into the state's General Fund to pay for things like legislator's salaries and Murky's airplane. That's been the big rub with the tourism industry for the past 10 years or so that some greedy legislator has tried to get this passed.

3. Several years ago the state tightened up on the pollution and levied heavy fines on some of the ships. They cut back the number of ships allowed per summer into Glacier Bay. They have done a good job of policing the industry regarding maintaining the pristineness of Alaska. An inspector is just a free ride on a cruise ship all summer for some lucky state employees.

4. There is no other jurisdiction IN THE WORLD that taxes cruise ships on gambling. And if they want to tax like other states do - 33% is still outlandish and unrealistic. The cruise lines will just not operate the casinos in Alaska - after all, most people come for the beautiful scenery and wildlife, right?

5. On disclosure of commissions and advertising - give me a break! Consumer protection my butt. This is not to protect the Alaskan consumer - so why do they care? And everyone on a cruise ship knows that there is a middle-man between them and the goods. Cruise passengers are not stupid - they know that if someone is pushing a particular store, they probably get something out of it, whether it's on a cruise ship or at a resort or in their own home town. Mark-up is the American way. And if they want to protect the consumer so badly, why is this just a TARGETED TAX at the cruise industry? There are nearly half-a-million other visitors who come to Alaska every year. Why not charge the tour companies and airlines and RV companies a head tax for every visitor?

6. As for the Alaskans who "don't understand" - I think the industry was trying to alert you to the fact that if taxes and regulations become too severe, the cruise lines have a choice and don't have to be there. Carnival Corp alone owns 60-70% of the berth space in Alaska. If Mickey Arison decides this is not a good thing financially, he could pull some or all of their ships out. There are many other destinations in the world where a cruise ship can go filled and profitably.There are not too may other big players out there to carry the 600,000 or so passengers if they leave. That means visitor numbers dwindle and the nice ride that every Alaskan has on the coattails of cruising may come to an end.

To consider the impact to an Alaskan who has nothing to do with tourism --- just look around your town think about all the restaurants and hotels and shops that have opened in the past 10 years. And all the people in your community who have jobs to support them. And where do all those people spend their money? Tourism is Alaska's second largest industry and without tourism dollars coming in to the state, your favorite place may not exist. Almost 3 times more tourists come to Alaska every year than there are residents.


Sorry to ramble on - this is obviously a hot issue and having spent 28 years of my life in Alaska tourism, I am rather passionate about it. The bottom line is, the state needs to be realistic. Just the $50 head tax alone would be fine and I think most cruise lines and passengers would accept it. The rest of it, though, is a bunch of hooey!
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Old Sep 9, 06, 6:23 pm   #12
 
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I was just wondering, I have not actually taken the Alaskan cruise yet although I was planning to in the next 12 months. Does every Alaskan citizen still get a check from the government each month?

Because I live in Texas and I've never gotten a check from Texas government even though we have apparently a lot of oil here, however not nearly as much as they have Alaska.

I would like it if someone would give me a check just for living in the state though
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Old Sep 10, 06, 8:27 am   #13
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No

Alaska residents don't get a check each month. One per year, but they are not large. It likely will peter out soon as well. The cost of living in Alaska towers over Texas.

Every hotel I check into has a big tax on the bill. So why is this different?
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Old Sep 10, 06, 9:28 am   #14
 
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Personally I think the industries potential reactions could make for some interesting cruises. There is a lot of really great scenery on the Canadian side so maybe they will start offering more Canada only itineraries?? It could be a great cruise to go up to Prince Rupert and then hit a bunch of the Vancouver Island ports. There has been a ton of construction on the island to try and attract the cruise business, maybe this will make these ports for attractive? I also don't think that any of the cruise lines visit Haida Gwaii, which would also make for a super interesting destination!
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Old Sep 10, 06, 10:20 am   #15
 
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I just looked it up. Apparently each and every Alaskan gets $1540 every year. I agree that I don't think that we should tax our tourists more than we tax ourselves. a perfect example is here in Dallas we tax the people to stay at our hotel substantially more in order to pay for the American Airlines Arena, substantially more than we tax people who live in the town. Of course that being said my property taxes far far exceed what you would pay an San Francisco for for a house five times as much. But we have no income tax on us.

I would have to say that on the whole I'm against all new taxation I think the government should be able to do just fine on the monies that it has. The amount of bureaucracy and wasting of money is amazing and I don't think that we should pay more money just for that.
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