Alaska Cruise Tax Will Likely Pass

August 23, 2006

Though the votes are still being counted, early tallies indicate that Alaskans have supported a controversial ballot measure that would place a $50 head tax on travelers who plan to cruise the state's waterways.

According to Reuters, the measure has a slight lead in the polls -- with 87 percent of precincts counted, 52.4 percent of voters are in favor. Full results should be available later this week.

If you have an Alaska cruise coming up this year, you needn't dig deeper into your pockets. A spokeswoman for the lieutenant governor's office tells us that the state's ballot initiatives go into effect 90 days after an election is certified; how long before an election is certified depends on individual circumstances, such as whether a recount is requested. Even if the election results were certified today, the head tax wouldn't go into effect until the current season is well over.

As we reported yesterday, the head tax is just one of the many provisions on the eight-page proposal. If passed, Alaska would apply corporate taxes to international vessels sailing in Alaska waters; the measure would also place a 33 percent gaming tax on casino revenues while the ships are in Alaskan waters and ports, and require cruise lines to prominently disclose their mark-up policies in every ticket.

Cruise lines are concerned that tourists will spend less onboard and ashore as a result of the tax, or choose not to cruise Alaska altogether. As for the cruisers themselves, we've received e-mail on both sides of the fence; click here to see what our readers are saying. And if you haven't weighed in yet, vote now in our poll -- and be sure to post your opinion.

--By Melissa Baldwin, Associate Editor