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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Island Voices
Jones Act must be rescinded

By Valerie Davis
President of Cruise Voyages.

Being a cruise industry veteran, it was with some sadness that I watched the SS Independence sail away forever.

On the other hand, she had been here for 20 years, and in that time, we have seen Alaska and Florida make millions off the cruise industry while we have only navigated into bankruptcy, with our local leaders taking a wait-and-see attitude, mistakenly thinking they were helping American Classic Voyages' monopoly.

Even all of Sen. Dan Inouye's behind-the-scenes maneuvering couldn't keep AMCV afloat. But Texas, Seattle, San Diego, New York, Boston and Mexico have all benefitted from this booming industry. Hawai'i is a great cruise destination — ships and passengers are waiting to come. With our tourism down, this is a business that can help save us, and it's knocking on our door.

What is our problem? Part of it is the Jones Act. This antiquated law must be rescinded immediately, or at least the 1886 Passenger Vessel Services Act section. This law forces us to operate with our hands tied behind our backs, and we are the only state so endangered.

With AMCV gone, there's no American cruise line that can serve us — therefore no need to keep foreign ships out. It's time we get on the cruising bandwagon and get this revenue back into Hawai'i. With this law amended, ships could go between here and the West Coast, something passengers frequently request, especially those who hate to fly.

This would bring cruise options back here in force — passengers staying in Hawai'i hotels, driving local rental cars, spending money in our restaurants and stores, pumping life back into our economy.

Holland America Line pioneered the cruise/tour concept in Alaska years ago, and many other lines have since followed suit. This would be perfect for Hawai'i — you could have a three-day cruise and a four-day land package, or a five-day cruise with a seven-day land package, etc. The possibilities are endless.

This would create far more business for our hotels from the cruise industry than we've ever had. Please contact your legislators and urge them to get this law changed now. Our economic survival depends on it. We have been held hostage too long by this archaic rule.

There is no better time for Hawai'i to become a major player in the cruise industry than now. Cruise passengers are looking for a safe haven.