Executive claims 'Carnival Triumph', 'Carnival Splendor' & even 'Costa Condordia' are but the "Tip of the Iceberg".
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? An extract from her statement follows:
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?