Hawaii House Republicans Discuss Cruise Industry

Representatives Colleen Meyer and Gene Ward discuss the cruise industry in Hawaii and purposed changes to rulings by the Departmen Representatives Colleen Meyer and Gene Ward discuss the cruise industry in Hawaii and purposed changes to rulings by the Department of Homeland Security.House Concurrent Resolution 79 requests the United States Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Boarder Protection, to reconsider the proposed rule amendment USCBP-2007-2008, Hawaii Coastwise Cruises. The resolution has been referred to the Tourism and culture (TAC) committee and the Public Safety and Military Affairs (PSM) committee.

With 2 of 3 NCL cruise ships leaving, federal rule change would kill local cruise industry. House Republicans introduced a resolution today calling for the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to reconsider their proposed rule change that would affect coastwise cruises in Hawaii.

“The potential losses to our economy are staggering”, said House Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan.  “According to the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism’s estimates, this rule change could decrease sales by $155 million, decrease labor earnings by $44.4 million, and cost Hawaii almost 1,500 jobs,” she continued. “Given the recent business decisions by Norwegian Cruise Lines to pull Pride of Aloha and Pride of Hawaii from the local cruise market due to increased competition, we can ill afford to lose foreign cruise vessels as well,” Finnegan explained.

“Given the projected reduction in economic growth, I don’t think our economy can afford another $200 million dollar hit,” added House Minority Floor Leader Colleen Meyer (R-47th District), who is a member of the House Finance committee.  “And the loss of even more jobs through so many sectors of our economy is certainly undesirable,” continued Representative Meyer. The proposed rule would make foreign flagged cruise vessels travelling between U.S. ports stop at a foreign port for at least 48 hours.

  “This rule change will likely end most interisland cruises originating outside of Hawaii, leaving only Pride of America and this is not conducive to growing a local cruise industry,” commented Representative Barbara Marumoto (R-19th District ), member of the House committees on Economic Development & Business and Tourism, Arts & Culture.  “As has been reported in local media, without the boost in visitorship provided by all interisland cruises, tourism would have been flat for the past 4 years,” said Representative Marumoto.

“It makes no sense”, added Rep. Gene Ward (R-17th District), also a member of the House Finance committee.  “This rule change is so damaging to our tourism industry and economy.  Every other state that is home to a port city that deals with the cruise industry opposes this change – Alaska, California, Washington, Maryland, and more.  Politicians from those states have testified against this rule change, but our Congressional delegation supports it.  Even Senator Inouye’s good friend from Alaska, Sen. Ted Stevens, is opposed to this.  Why is our Congressional delegation trying to further damage our economy?

“ In public commentary on the proposed rule change, the Hawaii Tourism Authority stated, “Hawaii’s cruise line industry provides great economic benefits to all affected islands, including generating business for tour and attraction operators, transportation providers, retailers, stevedoring and tug companies and may other residents and businesses providing goods and services to ships, passengers and crew. On Hawaii island, Kauai and Maui, the economic benefits from Hawaii’s cruise line industry has an even greater impact on the smaller island communities.” They further add that the “adoption of this item could mean the withdrawal of all international cruise business in Hawaii, and result in significant economic losses for our entire state.“

Besides the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the county of Hawaii, the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, Royal Caribbean Cruises, the Hawaii Pilots Association, and the Governor, among others, have submitted public comments in opposition to the rule change.

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