Sunday, August 20, 2006

Brrr... Alaskan Tax Looms

Proposal Nets Chill: Each spring, ships reposition from Florida to west coast ports for Alaskan itineraries starring glaciers and whales. Now Alaskan interests want more action, proposing a $50 head tax. The NorthWest CruiseShip Assoc. (with Florida-based powerhouses onboard) has forked out $1 million-plus to scuttle, noting that vendors and merchants as well as lines stand to lose. Soft Caribbean fares already have pummeled cruise stocks, and lines hold disdain for tinker-taxing lucrative Alaskan demand. (For perspective, Miami-Dade interests proposed slapping passengers with a head tax of about $10 per day a few years back, and proponents foolishly mentioned such a levy would nary be noticed, since it amounted to little more per diem than cost of an onboard libation. Promptly dubbed the Pina Colada Tax by savvy cruise marketers, the proposal drowned in its own juice. Cruise honchos led by CCL's Mickey Arison and RCCL's Richard Fain also made it clear their ships can reposition with comparative ease, well away from Miami to ports in Fort Lauderdale, Cape Canaveral, Tampa, etc.) Alaska's vote comes Tuesday, Aug. 21. Stay tuned.

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