The Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) announced today that it has sent a letter to President Trump urging him to take immediate action to include U.S. passenger vessel operators in the administration's plans to provide economic assistance to U.S. businesses that have experienced financial hardship due to the coronavirus.

"As tax paying U.S. companies, employing thousands of U.S. citizens, we urge you to remember the important role that the domestic passenger vessel industry plays in travel, tourism, and transportation by including our industry in your economic relief plans," said PVA President Colleen Stephens.

In its letter, PVA said that economic damage is being inflicted on PVA vessel members in every region of the U.S. PVA pointed out that its members are small family-owned operations. Also, PVA said that as discretionary travel declines, passenger vessel operators will see their customer base diminish and, with weeks of reduced or no revenue, their ability to meet debt obligations and to pay employees will be jeopardized.

PVA also said that a coalition of its small overnight cruise operators, and other members of the passenger vessel industry, have sent proposed language to the U.S. Senate that would provide financial assistance and regulatory relief for all passenger vessel operators.

Here is the proposed language from the PVA:

Title 46 United States Code is amended by adding at the appropriate place:  
§____. Assistance for U.S.-flagged passenger vessels and their American-citizen crew members affected by economic impacts of coronavirus outbreak

(a) In General.--Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Administrator of the Maritime Administration shall provide emergency assistance payments and other forms of assistance to operators of U.S.-flagged passenger vessels and small passenger vessels (as those terms are defined by section 2101 of title 46 United States Code) because of the effects of coronavirus outbreak.

(b) In providing assistance under the program, the Administrator shall consider emergency assistance that foster-
(A) continued vessel operations and maintenance during the period of economic distress occasioned by the outbreak of coronavirus; and
(B) preservation of jobs by U.S.-citizen mariners, crew members, and shoreside personnel.

(c) Limitation.--Total emergency assistance payments provided to an eligible vessel operator shall not exceed that operator's 2019 revenues, as satisfactorily demonstrated by submission of an application containing certifications that the Maritime Administrator may require.

 (d) Prohibited Uses.-Assistance awarded under this section may not be used to acquire or construct vessels, construct buildings or other physical facilities, or to acquire land.

(e) Tax Treatment.-No amount received by an operator under this provision shall be included in gross income for the purposes of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

 (f) Authorization of Appropriations.-There are authorized to be appropriated to the Administrator of the Maritime Administration for each of fiscal years 2020 and 2021 to carry out this section $500,000,000.

Proposed Regulatory Relief Language:

Sec. _____.NATIONAL EMERGENCY REGULATORY RELIEF FOR U.S.-FLAGGED PASSENGER VESSELS.-During the national emergency due to the coronavirus, the President is authorized to direct the agencies of the United States Government that regulate U.S.-flagged passenger vessels to provide exemptions or extensions of regulatory requirements if passenger and crew safety is not compromised.