The number of visitors to Japan by cruise ships in 2018 dropped 3.3 percent from the previous year to 2,446,000, the first fall since statistics began in 2013, the transport ministry said Friday.

The decline came chiefly because the number of visitors departing from China, which accounted for the largest share, fell 7 percent to 2.02 million, according to the ministry.

Cruise ship operators apparently curtailed their marketing campaigns in China, where fares dropped due to intensified competition.

Expecting the drop to be temporary, the ministry still aims to achieve the government’s goal of increasing the number of cruise ship visitors to 5 million in 2020.

The number of visits by cruise ships to ports in Japan in 2018 increased 5.9 percent from the previous year to a record high of 2,928.

Of them, 1,913 visits were made by cruise ships operated by overseas operators. Hakata port in Fukuoka received the largest number of such visits at 263, followed by Naha port at 236 and Nagasaki port at 215.

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