On July 14, the Empire reprinted an editorial from the Ketchikan Daily News against the proposed cruise ship passenger fee, which appears as Ballot Measure 2 in the Aug. 22 primary election. The editorial made one important admission that your readers should consider. Ketchikan already has a cruise passenger fee and one greater than the amount they could receive from successful passage of the August ballot measure. And today, that Ketchikan passenger fee is what funds the reconstruction of their waterfront, the new cruise dock and many pedestrian safety measures.
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These types of specific capital projects and amenities make Alaska coastal communities safe and memorable for the one million cruise passengers who travel here each year and greatly improve host towns that we can be proud of as year-round residents. Just two decades ago, most Southeast Alaska waterfronts were decayed and unsightly, while today the cruise ship passenger fees in towns like Ketchikan and Juneau fund their welcome and needed transformations.
A state cruise ship passenger fee is a positive benefit for Alaska, because it provides adequate state funding now to upgrade all coastal communities that host ship passengers and gives annual, financial certainty for large waterfront improvements. Vote yes on Aug. 22 for Ballot Measure 2.