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Jenniffer González Files a Bill to Promote a Safe Reopening of The Cruise Industry and Help the Tourism Sector

Press Release

Date: Oct. 6, 2020
Location: San Juan, PR
Issues: Industries

Congresswoman Jenniffer González Colón introduced the House version of S. 4592, the Set Sail Safely Act, led by Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, that aims to work on a plan to reopen the cruise industry while ensuring the safety of the passengers and employees.

The bill, H.R. would establish a Maritime Task Force with representatives from various federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, the Department of State, and the Federal Maritime Commission that will work in collaboration with a Private Sector Advisory Committee to develop a plan for the safe resumption of cruise line operations.

The plan should address the health, safety, security, and logistical needs to plan for the continuation of maritime travel to resume the cruise operations in the United States during the current COVID-19 public health emergency.

"I want to thank Rep. Don Young, Randy Weber, Donna Shalala, and Debbie Mucosal-Powell for joining me in introducing the Set Sail Safely Act. This legislation creates a Maritime Task Force that considers recommendations of public officials and the private sector to create a plan of the requirements and protocols necessary to safely continue maritime travel. The ongoing health emergency has showcased the vulnerabilities we face in coastal jurisdictions such as Puerto Rico where the first case of COVID-19 came from a passenger on a cruise line. Yet, this industry is an important economic engine for our districts. Last year, Puerto Rico's ports received 1.78 million passengers, a 7.3 percent increase in 2019 with an economic impact of $214,550,800. This bill works to ensure that when cruise lines start operations again, that they do so safely and reliably to protect passengers, crew, staff at the ports of call, and our constituents to stop the future spread of diseases and pandemics," stated González- Colón.

"We welcome enthusiastically this bill sponsored by Resident Commissioner, Hon. Jennifer González Colón, which promotes the creation of a working group between the federal government and the private sector to outline strategies for the safe and reliable reopening of the cruise industry. For Puerto Rico, the cruise industry represents thousands of direct and indirect jobs, being an important component for our economic development", said the director of Puerto Rico's Ports Authority, Joel Pizá.

"We would like to thank Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon and her co-sponsors for introducing this critical bill. Cruise ports across the nation provide thousands of jobs and generate billions in economic activity. Florida is home to the top three cruise ports in the world and we are ready to work hand-in-hand with our industry partners to develop a plan to safely resume cruising," said Doug Wheeler, President, and CEO of the Florida Ports Council.

"The travel and tourism sector is the lifeblood of Alaska, and our cruise industry plays a central role in our economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unforeseen challenges to our communities, but Alaskans are resilient; we must find a path forward for a successful 2021 cruise season. Alaska is unique, and we must be doing all that we can to promote communication and collaboration between the cruise industry and local authorities to help bring this sector back from the brink. Implementing proper safeguards so that we can welcome cruise ships back to Alaska is good for the countless families that rely on tourism. This legislation creates a robust and collaborative program to create a plan that gets our cruise ships safely moving again. I know that we can rise to this challenge, and I sincerely encourage my colleagues to support this needed legislation," said Alaska's Congressman Don Young.

"Tourism is a pillar of our South Florida economy," said Rep. Shalala. "Unfortunately, this industry has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to help ports and cruise lines develop strong safety standards so they can resume operations while properly mitigating risk. I am proud to join Rep. Gonzalez-Colon in introducing legislation that will form a pivotal part of our nation's efforts to reopen the tourism sector safely."

"On behalf of the wider cruise community, including 44,000+ American travel advisors and hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. that provide products and services to cruise lines, CLIA thanks Congresswoman Jennifer González-Colón and Congresswoman Donna Shalala for their leadership in introducing this important legislation in the House. The cruise industry is a vital economic artery in the United States, supporting nearly half a million American jobs prior to the pandemic. We appreciate our leaders in Congress for recognizing the importance of this industry and underscoring the urgency of developing a pathway for a responsible resumption of cruising from U.S. ports when the time is right," said Adam Goldstein, Global Chair, the Cruise Lines International Association.

Rodger Rees, Port Director and CEO of the Port of Galveston, Texas said "We're very excited about the movement toward cruise resumption with the Set Sail Safely Act. Representative Randy Weber has long been a supporter of the Galveston Wharves and the cruise industry. We appreciate his joining Congresswomen Gonzalez-Colon from Puerto Rico as an original cosponsor of the House companion bill. The Port of Galveston is ready to begin cruising!

Since the beginning of the pandemic, congresswoman González-Colón has been committed to supporting different industries including the tourism industry as they face the circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 11, González Colón joined members of the Florida Delegation in Congress to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry in Florida and Puerto Rico.

In addition to that, the congresswoman joined the Executive Director Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), Carla Campos at the end of March in a webinar with over \950 businessmen and employees of the tourism industry to evaluate the impact of COVID- 19 and provide guidance on federal and state aid, to mitigate the effects in their companies and their employees.