Just before Alaskan state legislators passed legislation reducing the cruise head tax from $46 per passenger to $34.50, Holland America Line President/CEO Stein Kruse said such a change would be “vital to the industry.”
It’s certainly more vital to Holland America than any other brand. Of all the majors, Holland places the highest percentage of its capacity in Alaska, along with significant land product. “We have huge investments in Alaska,” points out Kruse. He’s unhappy with the 14% decrease in capacity this summer to the 49th state.
Part of the power of Alaska for HAL is that it introduces thousands of passengers to cruising every summer. “As a main brand, we have the highest repeat in the industry at 40%,” notes Kruse. “But with Alaska, 30% of our market is made up of first-timers to cruising. For us, that’s the highest entry level.”
With the legislation reducing costs of operation in Alaska, Kruse now sounds hopeful when talking about the future. Instead of focusing on the negative political battles of recent times, energy can now be spent on promoting the product and destination.
“The reduction is not effective until after the 2010 season, so it has no effect on the current booking situation, but for next year and beyond it’s a very positive step, and I salute Governor Parnell and the legislators for recognizing our industry’s importance to the state of Alaska and its tourism interests,” says Kruse. “I am also keen on continuing the positive dialogue that has now been established so we can continue to deploy significant parts of our fleet to this beautiful and unique land.”