Jones Act Study Backfires

Seattle’s bid to revise the Jones Act ran into a major stumbling block when a new market study showed that cruise passengers spend far less “direct” dollars in Seattle and Vancouver than previously thought.

The economic impact study, which was commissioned by both the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the City of Seattle, revealed that the vast majority of cruise passengers bypass shopping areas in both cities by going directly from the airport to the cruise ship.

West Coast shipping sources said that Seattle officials had hoped to use the study to help lobby Congress to revise the Jones Act once the politicians realized that cruise passengers were big spenders while in port.

Although Seattle officials had estimated that passengers spend between $150 and $300 million annually in Seattle and Vancouver, the study revealed that passengers only spend an average of about $50 million in total “direct” purchases each year at the two West Coast ports.

The $25,000 study was researched by Arthur Young’s tourism/hospitality consulting practice in Seattle.

Seattle port officials have been lobbying to revise the Jones Act since they feel that the port is severely hampered because foreign-flagged vessels cannot pick up or discharge passengers at consecutive U.S. ports. They claim that Seattle would be positioned for major cruise port expansion if that restriction were lifted.

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