Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Alaska's Governor Welcomes Norwegian Capacity Increase

In a statement late Tuesday, Alaska's governor Sean Parnell expressed his pleasure at hearing Norwegian Cruise Line would add a third ship to their Alaskan fleet in 2013.

“We are pleased that Norwegian Cruise Line will bring even more passengers to our great state,” Parnell said. “This is more evidence that lowering taxes on an industry leads to increased investment that Alaskans will reap into the future.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Norwegian announced that Norwegian Sun would be deployed on 7-day one way cruises between Vancouver and Whittier during the summer 2013 season, the first time Norwegian has had three ships in Alaska in four years. Their third ship in the market was withdrawn due to a downturn in consumer demand for Alaska brought on by the sagging economy coupled with the increased taxes in Alaskan increasing costs (ultimately to cruise lines) making it harder to make a profit in the market.

The governor said that a large ship such as Norwegian Sun would add approximately 40,000 annual visitors to the state and approximately $40 million in direct and indirect spending within Alaska. Coupled with the additional 60,000 visitors the state projects will visit in 2012 due to capacity increases next year, the governor said it will begin to help offset the estimated 265,000 visitors lost and 5,000 jobs lost in recent years as cruise lines cut back.

The Norwegian Sun itineraries are the type the state has particularly sought since they allow for pre- and post-cruise stays in Alaska which translate into increased visitor spending directly in the state.

Reversing the decline in visitor travel has been a focus of the Parnell administration. Parnell sponsored legislation that reduced the cruise passenger head tax, lowering costs and thus incentivizing cruise lines to return capacity to the market.