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FMC's Sola hails bipartisan Alaska effort on Canada, says vaccination key

CRUISE FMC Commissioner Louis Sola.jpg
'Vaccinations are the key to the resumption of cruise operations in Alaska and throughout the United States,' Louis Sola said
US Federal Maritime Commissioner Louis Sola thanked members of Congress for their outreach to Canada on behalf of Alaska and said vaccination is key to cruising's resumption.

Sola acknowledged House of Representatives Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio and Rep. Don Young for their 'leadership in the effort to convince the Canadian authorities to work with the cruise industry to address Canada’s legitimate health concerns without hindering the resumption of sailings between the ports in Alaska and those along our Pacific coast.'

On Feb. 4, Transport Canada extended its ban of cruise ships carrying more than 100 people to Feb. 28, 2022.

Working across the aisle

DeFazio is a Democrat from Oregon and Young is a Republican from Alaska.

'Thanks to these two influential members of Congress from opposite sides of the aisle, several of their fellow house members have joined them in a call to our neighbors to the north expressing the importance of this issue and how serious our leaders take the matter,' Sola said.

Sola led the FMC's fact-finding mission on the economic impact of the cessation of cruises in Alaska, Washington and Oregon including the effect on small businesses and organized labor. 

'Alaska in particular will suffer great economic pain should it experience yet another season without revenues garnered from the thousands of visitors delivered by large cruise vessels,' Sola said. He expressed the hope that congressional leaders, Democrat and Republican, from many states both directly and indirectly affected, will move Canada to reconsider.

Vaccination of longshoremen, crew, passengers, destination populations

But Sola said the resumption of cruising and associated economic activity depends on vaccination — of terminal workers and longshoremen, crew and passengers and destination populations. He noted Alaska, with its high vaccination rate, is on track to become the first US state to achieve herd immunity.

'Vaccinations are the key to the resumption of cruise operations in Alaska and throughout the United States,' according to Sola. 'The sooner that we are able to vaccinate shoreside workers, vessel crews, passengers and local populations at ports of call, the sooner America will be able to cruise forward.'

He commended the Biden administration's work and all those involved in the dissemination of vaccines.

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