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Published on Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Key West votes to limit cruise ship traffic

The Key West cruise ship ballot has approved measures to restrict the size of vessels and the number of cruisers able to come ashore daily.

Residents also voted to give priority to ships attaining the highest environmental and health safety standards.

The Election Day ballot called for a vote on limiting the number of cruise passengers coming ashore to 1,500 a day, and limiting capacity of ships calling at Key West to no more than 1,300 passengers.

Al three issues were approved by more than 60% of the vote.

"We realized that Key West hasn't been offered the opportunity to have any input in how cruise ships come and visit us. And we decided that we needed to take a stand," said Jolly Benson, Vice President of the Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships.

Last year nearly one million people visited Key West on a cruise ship which is almost half its total number of tourists. 

However cruise passengers only represented about 7% of total tourism spending, according to a Cruise Lines International Association study.

The referendum was keenly fought by two distinct camps - those opposing cruise ship pollution and the tourism related business community keen to preserve jobs.

The changes will be added to the city's charter but a legal fight is expected to continue.

Port operator Pier B Development had already started federal legal proceedings against the city and the Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships.


Written by Ray Montgomery, US Editor

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