If you are going to Cruise Alaska after 1-1-07 are you aware that you will be taxed by the good people of Alaska at a rate of $50.00 per person?
Ahh, those folks really love to stick it to us dummies from the lower 48 don't they? Evidently they do not undertstand the concept that cruise passangers arrive with bundles of spendable cash that they are willing to give to Alaskans for very little work.
Well, there's a simple answer then... Don't go to Alaska. If you don't go then the Alaskan's don't get your money.
Now, if you're already booked on NCL for the 2007 season it sounds like they aren't passing the new fee on to their passengers this year.
Of course Ketchikan approved a new pier and other improvements last year.... Those have to get paid for somehow, and current passenger fees and taxes won't cover it.
Did you know Juneau's been collecting a separate head tax for years? While the region benefits on a 6 ship day in Juneau, the fact is that many ships takes a real toll on the city's infrastructure...
What is more foolish than the new port tax is the new "Ocean Ranger" program which requires the cruise lines to embark somebody to ensure that they're in compliance with all environmental regulations... Something that's already done by the USCG and Alaska regulatory agencies...
It's not unusual for municipalities to levy some sort of tax on tourists to fund stadiums, convention centers or some other civic project, why shouldn't the Alaskan's do the same?
You have to remember too though that Alaska does not have a sales tax so when you purchase things there you are not paying a tax. That could also be adding up for them. I, for one, will still continue to cruise to Alaska. I was born in Anchorage and to me scenery is more important on a cruise than beaches. Thats just my feeling though and Im sure no one else will probably feel that way. Seeing the awesome power of glaciers is something you cant see everywhere. Think of the money you probable spend on excursions, souveniers, etc., and just deduct that $50 from it, or buy a couple less pics on the ship.
Alaska is the second most popular cruise destination next to the Caribbean. The cruise lines will continue to sail there, and the ships will sail full. The Alaska citizens have been trying for years to vote in this type of tax on cruise passengers. The ones that are for the tax don't want the ships there because they believe they are ruining their environment. It's a shame that this tax was approved when the cruise lines already bring in millions of dollars in the form of port fees, shore excursions, land employment at ship terminals, money spent in ports on souvenirs, restaurants, and hotels for pre and post. And
the added on land extensions to the interior of Alaska (Denali, Fairbanks, Yukon) keep many Alaskans employeed in the tourism business.
So do you also disapprove of the taxes that Orlando and the surrounding municipalities charge tourists to the area to pay for all of the civic projects in the area?
What about the taxes that the City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County charge hotel guests to pay for a variety of civic programs?
The Alaska tax is no different than the various convention and tourism taxes numerous municipalities around the county charge hotel guests.
That said, there are some bogus pieces of that legislation. The Ocean Ranger program for one, same with the "disclosure" cruise lines and excursion operators are required to make to passengers regarding their business to business dealings and fees.
While most of the supportors of the Alaska tax were anti-tourism and anti-cruise ship, hence the "ocean ranger" program and some of the other non revenue portions of the Alaska measure. However, a portion of the proceeds from the new tax will be going to fund a variety of port improvements at the various Alaska ports.
At least hotel taxes and rental car taxes are aimed at any form of tourism. Everyone, whether a land vacation or cruiser pays them. The Alaska head tax targets cruisers specifically. This is a very hefty tax and you can be sure it will be passed on to the cruisers. Whether it's collected separately, or added into the cruise fare.
As I already stated it will not stop cruisers from going to Alaska.
How so? Assuming the average Alaska cruise passenger paid $750 for their cabin (which is probably very much on the low side) the $50 tax is just 6.67%. Compare that to Hawai'i's which levies something in the area of 7.14%, and some municipalities that levy taxes as high as 9% or more on their visitors! Change the new tax from a flat rate to a percentage of the cruise fare and then I'll be concerned. My avarage Alaska cruise fare has been running right around $1200, the new tax is all of 4.17% of that...
Heck, Juneau has been levying a 6% tax on cruise travelers for years, they have to PASS on taking the proceeds from the new tax as it would give them just 4% of the new tax and they would have to give up the existing 6% they currently get. However, communities like Sitka, Ketchikan and even Kodiak (which gets a visit or two a year from Princess) which don't currently collect such fees can now get a piece of the pie so to speak.
Imagine how much your cruise fare would go up if EVERY Alaska city your itinerary visited collected a head tax. That's something that was a very real possibility...
I think that my complaint about this kind of tax is that it that is aimed at a specific class of fellow citizen, not at all citizens.
What if NYC decided to asses a tax on all people who entered the city in a taxi cab a dollar? What if Florida taxed each automoble that entered the state from Georgia? How about if NC taxed each person that is sitting in an Amtrack train $3 for the privilege of riding through their state on the way to SC or VA?
This tax has Supreme Court written all over it IMHO.