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Over 1 million international travelers visit Japan on cruise ships in 2015

  • 2015-12-09 15:00:00
  • , Sankei
  • Translation

(Sankei: December 9, 2015 – p. 10)

 

 The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLITT) announced on Dec. 8 that the number of foreign visitors arriving on cruise ships increased by 2.4-fold from last year to more than 1 million in 2015.

 

 Thanks to the weak yen and the popularity of cruises in China, the target the government set in June this year was realized five years earlier than planned. Since cruise ships give a big economic boost to ports of call, the ministry intends to speed up preparing the environment for receiving passenger liners.

 

 The ministry held at Hakata port in Fukuoka City on Dec. 8 a ceremony commemorating the attainment of the goal. The “Costa Serena,” a cruise ship operated by an Italian company, arrived from Shanghai with 3,780 passengers on board. The one millionth cruise ship passenger was a Chinese woman who has visited Japan many times. She said with a simile: “I want to buy an electric rice-cooker in Hakata.”

 

 It can be said that a cruise ship, which carries several thousand tourists, who sightsee, shop and dine in Japan, is “a treasure ship” for a port of call.

 

 According to estimates by Kobe and other cities, a liner with 3,600 passengers represents about 140 million yen in economic benefits for the port of call, as a single passenger spends 38,000 yen. The economic benefit is even larger when the harbor charge and food for the passengers and crew are included.

 

 Last year Hakata led in number of calls by cruise ships, 99, followed by Nagasaki (70); Ishigaki (68) and Naha (69) in Okinawa Prefecture; and Yokohama (48). Ports in the Kyushu region and Okinawa were the leading ports of call because of their proximity to China.

 

 Against the background of the rapid rise in calls by cruise ships, Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii said at a post-cabinet-meeting press conference on Dec. 8, “We will improve existing facilities to deal with the situation swiftly.”

 

 Concretely, cushioning materials and bitts on quays will be replaced so they can accommodate mammoth passenger liners. Yatsushiro port in Kumamoto Prefecture was upgraded last year at a cost of 200 million yen. This year 12 cruise ships called at the port.

 

 According to the ministry, the number cruise ship passengers, 10.30 million worldwide in 2000, doubled in ten years. It is expected that the market will show especially robust growth in Asia from now.

 

 Cruise ships tend to call at the same cities, so in order for cities across Japan to share the benefits of the cruise boom, diversifying ports of call will be a challenge.

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