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Opening Remarks of Commissioner Sola, September, Meeting with Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf

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Good morning, I am Commissioner Louis Sola.

Secretary Wolf – Congratulations on your recent, and well-deserved nomination and thank you for being with us today, it’s a pleasure.  As you know, the Federal Maritime Commission and Department of Homeland Security work together daily around the country as partner government agencies and our headquarters building in Washington even shares a few floors with the Federal Protective Service.

The Federal Maritime Commission tasked me with leading our effort on a fact-finding investigation – “COVID-19 impact on the Cruise Industry”.  My team and I have conducted countless interviews around the country with cruise ports, local and state government, clients, suppliers, and industry leaders to produce a truly comprehensive report spanning thousands of pages.  We have completed the first two phases which recommended changes to the performance bonding of cruise companies, and after extensive debate, initiated timely rulemaking for universal cruise ticket policy refunds.  This is the most significant action related to the Passenger Vessel Act since 1881.  We are now focused upon the regional economic impacts and wish to give you an exclusive prescreening of our upcoming report concerning the second and third largest states in the nation, Texas and Florida.  I thought it would be interesting if you could hear it directly from some of our impacted sources- the port directors, labor unions, cruise executives, and local mayors.  Many local businesses are devastated as the impact is far reaching, and none so more than in my home state of Florida which we will hear.

Meanwhile, the European Union has come out with very straightforward guidelines and cruise ships are sailing again in Italy and Spain.  But it seems as if this industry has been singled out for sailing in our country.

The CDC No Sail Order will now run until the end of September – and for which they are currently collecting  “ public comments” to be analyzed and taken into consideration for their future decision making, which is unique in itself.

Without the income generated by the cruise industry, our nation’s supply chain suffers.

It is my hope for a commitment to work together between our two agencies on this issue.