World City America Inc. President Stephanie Gallagher asks when will U.S. politicians and reporters ask the right questions about this NON-U.S. industry?
American passengers account for over 90 percent of the revenues earned by over 150 foreign-flag cruise ships sailing out of U.S. ports. It’s a $40 BILLION-a-year industry that competes unfairly with American hotels, resorts, casinos and convention facilities. “Unfairly” because it is exempt from U.S. safety, environmental and labor regulations. It DOES NOT pay U.S. corporate taxes on its profits, and it is not required to hire American officers or crew.
“As a result, the cruise industry is among the TOP TEN contributors to our trade deficit along with COUNTRIES like Japan, China, Mexico and Germany.
American courts will not decide passenger or crew grievances. Liberian or Panamanian or Bahamian courts – whichever “flag of convenience” happens to be flying – will.
It is true that millions of American passengers have taken a cruise on one of the foreign-built, foreign-owned and foreign-flagged cruise ships without incident. But…is that any reason to turn a blind eye to the possibility of a major disaster, one that will not be handled by U.S. authorities or U.S. courts?
Isn’t it time to ask why these ships are not flying the American flag, are not hiring American officers and crew, and are not paying taxes on their multi-billion dollar annual U.S.-sourced profits? Why are they allowed to compete unfairly with Marriott, Westin, Hilton, Radisson, Harrah’s, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Universal Studios, and other U.S. hospitality properties?
The foreign-controlled cruise industry can well afford to lobby its interests and does so very successfully, acting through, among others, the U.S. ports from which the foreign-flag ships sail. Identify a U.S. Governor or Member of Congress in a State or District that benefits from this huge NON-U.S. industry and you’ll find that, sadly, most lose interest in these important questions very quickly.
“We know the whole story. We are pioneers in the cruise industry, determined to help the United States capture a share of this $40 billion-a-year U.S.-driven market for the American economy and American workers. We’ve been at it 20 years and have spent $60 million of our own money…not the public’s.”