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US ports call for emergency COVID-19 relief funding

CRUISE Port Canaveral.jpg PHOTO: CANAVERAL PORT AUTHORITY
The loss of cruise operations at Port Canaveral has had a profound impact on the port and the local and extended tourism community
Port Canaveral joined 69 port leaders representing a broad coalition of US ports, state port authorities and associations to urge Congress to provide emergency COVID-19 funding relief.

Cargo traffic hasn't offset loss of cruise business

'Port Canaveral is one of many seaports in Florida and around the country experiencing significant financial challenges as cruise passenger travel has ceased and commercial cargo volumes have not scaled up fast enough to offset the lost operations,' Port CEO Capt. John Murray said.

In a series of letters sent to House, Senate and administration leadership, the port directors and CEOs outlined their urgent concerns for the economic crisis ports face and the increasing challenges of maintaining their state of readiness. The port signatories represent a broad cross-section of transportation economic powerhouses operating on the US East and West coasts, along the entire Gulf Coast region, and the US territories of Guam and US Virgin Islands.

Port leaders issued an appeal to federal policymakers that while America’s seaports have been vitally important in supporting the nation’s response to the COVID pandemic, keeping fuel, food and critical supplies moving throughout the country, these same ports are crucial to ensuring the United States is able to quickly recover from the current economic crisis.

'Ports are struggling to manage the impact this pandemic is having on our ability to continue our critical mission as gateways of commerce,' Murray said. 'Seaports, like airports, need emergency relief to maintain our state of readiness and to ensure we can sustain our role in the nation’s economic recovery.'

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the loss of cruise operations at Port Canaveral has had a profound impact on the port and the local and extended tourism community, particularly the many small businesses including hotels, restaurants and transportation companies.

Projected $1.7bn worst-case economic loss to Florida

The projected negative economic implications for the entire Central Florida region and Florida overall are serious. An economic downturn study recently completed by Philadelphia-based Business Research and Economic Advisors found that in worst-case projections, Port Canaveral will have a 79% loss of revenue passengers resulting in a more than $1.7bn loss of total expenditures across Florida, a 16,000 annualized jobs loss with over $560m in lost wages and a $46m loss in state and local tax revenues.

Based on a 2018 port economic impact study, the COVID-19 pandemic could result in a direct loss of 130,000 jobs at US seaports.

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