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A room with a life jacket: Japan considers using cruise ships for Olympic accommodation

Kyodo

Anticipating a serious accommodation shortage in the 2020 Olympics, the government is exploring using luxury cruise ships as floating hotels, government officials said Thursday.

Ministries and other central government offices have joined hands with municipalities and cruise ship operators to assess the feasibility of the idea. A task force meeting was held on Thursday.

High on the agenda are legal issues related to port calls and the use of ships as hotel rooms for an extended period, the officials said, adding that other topics being discussed include customs duties for meals served in restaurants on ships.

Accommodation shortages during the Olympics and Paralympics have emerged as a major headache for both the public and private sectors, with the government aiming to boost the number of foreign visitors to 40 million by 2020.

Officials said cruise ships were used during the 2014 Games in Sochi and the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

An official at the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry said Tokyo and Yokohama ports, which are capable of handling large-scale luxury cruise ships, are among top candidates for the plan.