Sunday, April 13, 2008

Maritime Law Problem Still Big Issue In Hawaii

Niel Dietz, Secretary-Treasurer of the Hawaii Ports Maritime Council of the AFL-CIO, wrote a detailed article about how U.S. flagged ships are getting hurt by foreign flag ships when it comes to cruises to Hawaii. While he makes a valid argument on it hurting the U.S. flagged ships, I find it hard to believe that enforcement of the rule as planned is going to help. Reason being is that there are not a lot of U.S. flagged cruise ships to begin with. As he stated, being under U.S. flag also means following U.S. regulations in regard to hiring, wage, and tax practices. That is why the ships have trouble with competing in the Hawaiian market because their costs are so high to begin with. Removing the competition does not mean that people are just going to jump ship so to speak and move over to the U.S. flagged ships that will be raising their prices with the lack of competition. Cruising can be an inexpensive vacation, and this is why so many people try it and return many times over. Raise the price (which is what will happen for Hawaiian cruises) and watch the number of passengers drop. There are many other cruise destinations and other types of vacations that will look more tempting when compared to the Hawaiian cruises if this happens. A cruise to Hawaii is usually twelve or fourteen days. People on these cruises are not the typical home port crowd that drives to pick up the ship. They invest a lot of money into flights and usually hotel stays. Seeing the prices go up as I see them doing, is going to hurt the ports of call much more than its going to help with less visitors. Hawaii is already looking to a slow season this year alone with the loss of flights to the Island State. I could be wrong, and only time will tell, but the maritime law looks to me like it has the potential to do more harm than good in an already weak economy especially in Hawaii

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