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Wednesday, February 22, 2023
The 1886 Passenger Vessel Services Act has been a bonanza for foreign cruise lines and foreign ports, to Hawaii's detriment
By Grassroot Institute @ 4:56 PM :: 2511 Views :: Jones Act

The 1886 U.S. Passenger Vessel Services Act has been a bonanza for foreign cruise lines and foreign ports, to Hawaii's detriment

from Grassroot Institute

A U.S. maritime law enacted during the days before air travel is exporting American tourism dollars — including from Hawaii —to countries such as Canada, Mexico and Aruba.

That law is the federal 1886 Passenger Vessel Services Act, which, as Institute policy researcher Jonathan Helton explained in the Feb. 4 edition of Travel Weekly, prevents foreign-flagged or foreign-built ships from transporting passengers between U.S. ports unless they make a stop at a foreign port officially designated as either "nearby" or "distant" port, depending on the circumstances.

In the article, "One more good reason to throw an antiquated maritime law overboard," Helton notes that the PVSA was meant to protect American cruise vessel owners. 

But these days there is only one large ship that qualifies as a U.S-built, U.S.-flagged cruise vessel: the Pride of America, based in Honolulu. There hasn't been a large cruise vessel built in the U.S. since 1958. 

So the PVSA has been a tourism bonanza for foreign cruise lines and foreign ports, with Panama the latest country trying to get in on the action.

"Without the PVSA," Helton wrote, "cruises from Florida to Maine would be possible without an out-of-the-way sailing to Aruba. Instead, U.S. port cities such as Savannah, Ga., and Atlantic City could reap those formerly exported tourism dollars.

"Cruises up and down the California coast could flourish without a mandatory night in Ensenada," he continued. "People could catch a cruise ship from Oahu to Maui without the cruise line being fined $798 for violating the PVSA. 

"Many cruise lines might still want to include a foreign stop in their itineraries — but those stops would be determined by market demand, not an arbitrary, outdated law."

To read the entire article, go here.

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