Gov. Sean Parnell is right to call for a reduction in Alaska’s steep $46-per-head tax on cruise passengers because of the harm it has done to the state’s tourism industry (March 21, “Parnell wants cruise ship head tax reduced”). In 2008, while worldwide cruise travel was up, cruise lines made cuts in their trips to Alaska.
Cruising is a $1.24 billion industry for the state. Especially in a frail economy, the state should eliminate government-created hindrances in order to keep local businesses competitive and help attract new ones with sound fiscal policy.
Too many people see these taxes as a way to tap revenues from visitors and avoid raising their own taxes. This is a myth, because tourism taxes have serious consequences on wages and the state’s economy as a whole. Reducing or eliminating the high cruise tax would help spark tourism in the state and bring more visitor traffic to struggling local businesses
Legislative Specialist, Budget and Tax Policy
The Heartland Institute
This letter to the editor was originally published in the Juneau Empire.