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

Press Release

Date: Oct. 6, 2020
Location: Jayuya, PR
Issues: Industries

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón filed the Set Sail Safely Act to work efforts to reopen the cruise industry, while ensuring the safety of passengers and employees. The measure was also introduced in the Senate by Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott under number S. 4592.

The bill, HR8471, would establish a Maritime Task Force comprised of 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, Department of Transportation, Department of the State and the Federal Maritime Commission so that, in coordination with a Private Sector Advisory Committee, work is done on necessary health, safety and security logistics changes and a strategy is developed for the continuation of maritime trips and the resumption of the Cruise ship operations in United States waters during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

"I thank representatives Don Young, Randy Weber, Donna Shalala and Debbie Murcasel-Powell for accompanying me in presenting the Set Sail Safely Act. This legislation creates a Maritime Working Group that takes into account the recommendations of public officials and the industry. private to create a plan of the requirements and protocols necessary to continue maritime travel safely, "said the resident commissioner.

González Colón added that "the health emergency due to the pandemic has shown 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. However, this industry is an important economic engine for our districts. Last year, Puerto Rico's ports received 1.78 million passengers, an increase of 7.3 percent in 2019 with an economic impact of $ 214,550,800. This bill works to ensure that when cruise lines begin operating again, they do so safely and reliably to protect passengers, crew, personnel at ports of call, and our constituents in order to stop future spread of diseases and pandemics ".

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

"We thank Representative Jenniffer González Colón and her co-sponsors for introducing this crucial bill. Cruise ports around the nation create thousands of jobs and contribute billions to economic activity. Florida is home to the three major 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 shipping, " said Doug Wheeler, President and CEO of Florida Ports Council.

This legislation creates a strong, collaborative program to create a plan to get our cruise ships moving safely again. I know we can rise to this challenge and I encourage my colleagues to support this necessary legislation, " Alaska representative Don Young said.

"Tourism is a mainstay of our economy in South Florida," said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL). "Unfortunately this industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. We need to help ports and cruise lines develop strong security standards so they can resume operations and adequately mitigate risk. I am proud to join Representative González-Colón in the filing of legislation that will form a fundamental part of our nation's efforts to reopen the tourism sector safely. "

"On behalf of the broader cruise community, including more than 44,000 American travel consultants and hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses in the United States that provide products and services to cruise lines, CLIA thanks Congresswoman Jennifer González-Colón and Congresswoman Donna Shalala for her 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 jobs before the pandemic. We thank our leaders in Congress for recognizing the importance of this industry and underscoring the urgency of developing a pathway for the responsible resumption of cruise ships from US ports when the time is right, "said the Global President of Cruise Lines International Association, Adam Goldstein.

Rodger Rees, Port Director and CEO of the Port of Galveston, Texas said: "We are very excited about the efforts to resume operation of cruise ships with the Set Sail Safety Act. Congressman Randy Weber has been an ally supporting Galveston Docks. and the cruise industry for a long time. We appreciate your joining Congresswoman González-Colón from Puerto Rico as a co-sponsor of the House version of this bill. The Port of Galveston is ready to start sailing! ".

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Resident Commissioner has held conversations with interest groups that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 11, González Colón joined the representatives of the Florida delegation to discuss the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry in Florida and Puerto Rico.
Also at the end of March, together with the executive director of the Puerto Rico Government Tourism Company (CTPR), Carla Campos, they offered a virtual conference where they brought together over 950 businessmen and employees of the tourism industry to evaluate the impact of COVID- 19 and provide guidance on federal and state aid, aimed at protecting companies and the tourist workforce.