Last year's cruise season in Alaska ended piece by piece, week after week. Delays turned into cancelations over the course of several months.
But after some tentative predictions about what this year might bring, most hopes were dashed in one fell swoop last week when Canada banned cruise ships from its waters for another full year.
It wasn't a total surprise, and it's not necessarily a done deal. The ban could be lifted if the Canadian government decides the pandemic has "improved" enough, but that's probably not enough hope to hang a tourism season on. There's also the outside chance that Alaska's congressional delegation can convince the Biden administration to find a legal workaround to the maritime law that requires foreign flagged ships to stop in Canada on the way to Alaska. But again — how do you decide whether to start hiring seasonal staff based on those odds?
This news is huge in Southeast Alaska. And it means we have our work cut out for us as reporters in port communities. The impacts of the tourism industry leave hardly anyone untouched around here.
This is one of KTOO's priority coverage areas. Please share your stories about what this news means for you and your businesses and your families with us by responding to this email or by sending us a message. We want to do our best to share our community's reaction to this news.
-- Jennifer Pemberton, KTOO Managing Editor