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Alaska senator announces bill to permanently allow cruises to sail to Alaska without Canada stop

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Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Wednesday she will introduce legislation to protect the Alaska tourism industry, centering on cruises.

U.S. maritime law required international stops on ships flagged in foreign countries – which includes many major cruise lines' ships – under the Passenger Vessel Services Act.

Earlier this year, Murkowski introduced the "Alaska Tourism Recovery Act" which allowed cruise ships to sail to Alaska without requiring a stop in Canada – something the Canada cruise ban would have prevented at the time. President Joe Biden signed it into law in May. The law remains in effect "until either the date on which Canada lifts restrictions prohibiting cruise ships from docking in its waters due to the COVID-19 pandemic or March 31, 2022."

Murkowski aims to make a permanent change to that.

"Next week, I intend to introduce legislation that will permanently exempt Alaskan cruises carrying more than 1,000 passengers from the PVSA," Murkowski said.

►Canada cuts its ban on cruises short: Plans to welcome back cruise ships Nov. 1

►Celebrity cruise to Alaska: Fully vaccinated passenger tests positive for COVID-19

Because the legislation allowed the cruise industry to circumvent the international port stop, cruises have been able to sail in Alaska since earlier this summer without a stop in Canada.

"While the PVSA is well-intentioned to protect American jobs and businesses, it had the unintended consequence of putting Alaskan businesses at the mercy of the Canadian government," Murkowsi said, noting the law "nearly wiped out" Southeast Alaskan economies that were ready to welcome tourists that were not able to.

"We need to reform the PVSA so that Alaskans' ability to engage in commerce isn’t derailed by the government of another country," Murkowski added.

►Coast Guard says: 6 dead after floatplane crashes in southeast Alaska

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Senator announces bill to protect Alaska tourism, cruising industry