Arrivals of foreign-operated cruise ships to Japan are set to near the level seen before the coronavirus pandemic when their dockings to the country resume in March after a three-year hiatus, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.
Out of 42 major ports, a total of 89 arrivals are scheduled in March at 23 ports across 22 prefectures, while discussions by local governments and ship operators are progressing for arrivals at other ports, the survey showed. Before the pandemic in March 2019, Japan saw 125 dockings at the 42 ports.
The recovery apparently reflects tourism promotion by local municipalities in Japan, as well as China's suspending reception of international cruisers.
Out of 2.15 million who visited Japan on cruise ships in 2019, 80 percent were from China. Those visitors from around the world spent 80.5 billion yen ($590 million) during their stay in Japan, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.
The Kyodo News surveyed 42 ports across 32 prefectures that received large cruise ships in 2019.
Japan has suspended dockings of foreign cruise ships since March 2020 following mass infections on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which caused thousands to be quarantined in Yokohama in February 2020 and left 13 of the over 700 infected crew and passengers dead.
Port calls of cruise ships from overseas will resume, starting with Shimizu in Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan on March 1.
Out of the 23 ports scheduled to receive cruise ships in March, Kagoshima in southwestern Japan will see the most dockings at 11, followed by nine each in Kobe in western Japan and Naha in Okinawa Prefecture, the southernmost island prefecture, the survey showed.
Yokohama near Tokyo is set to receive eight cruises, and Kochi in western Japan, seven.
The port in Osaka in western Japan said in the survey it has plans to receive several cruise ships but declined to specify the number, citing ongoing discussions with related parties. It had seven dockings of foreign cruise ships in March 2019.
Ports in Nagoya in central Japan, Takamatsu in western Japan, and Hakata and Nagasaki in southwestern Japan also declined to give the number for similar reasons.
Ahead of the reception of international cruise ships, the Japanese government urges local municipalities to discuss and reach agreements with ship operators and local health and customs authorities over responses to coronavirus infections.
Of the 23 ports scheduled to accept foreign cruises, 16 have or are nearing such agreements, while seven are still in discussions.