Haines tour operator Karen Hess told the Chilkat Valley News in a December interview that her company was down 21 percent for 2009 and that she will fight for changes in a voter approved initiative.

Hess said the recent changes to cruise itineraries were a response to taxes and regulation in Alaska. “It’s damaging to our industry and damaging to Alaska,” she said, adding that she’ll cut staff next season. Hess owns Chilkat River Adventures

The ballot measure added a $50 head tax, taxed casino revenues and tightened regulations on cruise ship wastewater discharge.

Tour operator Bart Henderson also told the newspaper the taxes are driving away business. “The economics are simple. They’re going to go to wherever they make the most money.” Henderson said his company, Chilkat Guides, reduced staff by 10 percent in 2009 and will “eliminate at least 10 percent this next year.”

An initial schedule for 2010 has 57 ports of call for Haines – 31 small ships and 26 large ships. Haines had 73 visits this summer and 98 in 2008.

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