Today, the State of Texas filed a motion to intervene in support of the State of Florida vs the CDC. In today‘s filing, the State of Texas states the resulting prolonged economic shutdown has left many people—and, in some cases, entire industries—facing financial ruin. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a series of “no-sailing” or “conditional-sailing” orders that have brought the Texas passenger cruise industry, and the community of businesses supporting and benefitting from that industry, to a halt.
In 2019, the Port of Galveston, the state’s primary cruise port, had nearly 1.1 million cruise passengers embarked following years of steady growth. Galveston alone accounted for 8% of all US cruise embarkations before the pandemic. In 2018, it is estimated that cruise vitiators spent over $65 million with cruise ships accounting for 47% of the Port of Galveston’s revenue in 2019. This level of operations kept harbor pilots, tugs, and longshoremen operational and employed and as the ripple effect inland, as well. Hotels, restaurants, bars, retail stores, entertainment venues, touring ventures, and airlines all benefit from Texas’ cruise industry. In 2019, tourism-related businesses like travel agencies, airlines, and hotels received some $816 million in direct cruise industry expenditures in Texas.
Texas argues rather than building on the progress health officials have made since the start of this pandemic to allow the cruise industry to operate under reasonable restrictions within its statutory authority, the CDC’s order leaves cruise ships anchored in port while their interests—and those of the many industries that rely on cruise ships sailing—remain at sea.
Texas is not the first state to join in support, on April 20th, Alaska joined in support of Florida.
Today’s move by Texas comes one day after the cruise ship rally in Galveston and on the heels of the CDC’s release of the next phases of the conditional sail order with technical instructions for test cruises.