JUNEAU, Alaska -- A proposal to levy a $100 per person tax on all Alaska-bound cruise passengers was introduced in the state House of Representatives this week.

The bill, which was sponsored by freshman Alaska Rep. Carl Gatto, (R-13) was referred to several committees for debate.

Not surprisingly, it immediately was met with protests from the tourism industry.

John Hansen, president of the North West Cruise Ship Association, said he would reach out to Alaska legislators and give them the industry's perspective. "If it is heard in front of a committee we'll be there to testify.

"That kind of tax is damaging to tourism," he added.

Last year, a bill to introduce a $50 per person tax was defeated.

Gatto said cruise tax revenue could be spent on education. Cruise lines, he said, "are building more ships and increasing their service. It [doesn't] look like we'd be scaring them away."

Gov. Frank Murkowski's proposal for a $15 fee for inbound tourists is also under consideration.

Murkowski's Wildlife Conservation Pass would be required for all non-Alaska residents over age 16 who "access public lands or waters" via a commercial provider such as a cruise line or tour operator.

Visitors who buy a fishing or hunting license would be exempt.

The pass is included in the governor's 2004 fiscal year budget proposal, which was wending its way through the Alaska Legislature last week.

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