Port Canaveral, FL (STL.News) Today, Governor Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. held a roundtable discussion with cruise industry executives and employees to highlight the importance of this critical industry to Florida’s economy.
At the roundtable, Governor DeSantis called on the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to rescind its no-sail order which the CDC has indicated will remain in place until November 1, 2021. The federal government has provided guidance to all other passenger transportation modes and other industries; however, it has failed to issue guidance for the cruise industry to assist in its recovery.
In addition to the lack of guidance, the federal government has neglected to provide relief funding to seaports while airports and transit agencies have received assistance through previous relief packages. Earlier this month, Governor DeSantis recommended Florida’s seaports receive $258.2 million out of the state’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to account for the losses accrued due to the no-sail order.
“If there is one thing we’ve learned over the past year, it’s that lockdowns don’t work, and Floridians deserve the right to earn a living,” said Governor DeSantis. “The cruise industry is essential to our state’s economy and keeping it shut down until November would be devastating to the men and women who rely on the cruise lines to provide for themselves and their families. I urge the CDC to immediately rescind this baseless no-sail order to allow Floridians in this industry to get back to work.”
“It’s anchors aweigh for almost every travel industry in the U.S., yet the Biden administration is keeping our cruise liners docked—while many other major countries begin to operate cruises safely under health guidelines. The rationale for keeping U.S. cruises shuttered through the foreseeable future is based on outdated data and guidelines put in place before we had a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “The federal government is acting outside its authority in singling out and docking the cruise industry while other tourism-based businesses continue to operate in accordance with health guidelines. This heavy-handed federal overreach is harming our nation’s economy and is especially damaging to Florida’s economy and our vital tourism industry. That is why, we are calling on the Biden administration to lift the outdated lockdown order on Florida’s cruise industry and allow workers who rely on this important industry to get back to work.”
“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, the state continues to make key investments in our transportation system, but, because of the CDC’s no-sail order, the cruise industry is still struggling,” said FDOT Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “The Governor and the state continue to do all that we can to help these members of our communities regain their livelihoods and we hope our federal counterparts follow suit.”
On March 14, the nation marked its one-year anniversary of the CDC’s no-sail order. A September 2020 report from the Federal Maritime Commission estimated that during the first 6 months of the pandemic, losses in Florida due to the cruise industry shutdown totalled $3.2 billion in economic activity, including 49,500 jobs paying $2.3 billion in wages. In addition, Florida saw wide-ranging indirect impacts throughout the state – from airports and ground transportation to hotels, restaurants, and tourist destinations.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the cruise industry are part of a larger struggle facing the entire travel industry, which ended 2020 with $1.1 trillion in losses, a 42 percent drop from 2019.