The tourism ministry will support regional efforts to attract cruise ship visitors from abroad by offering waterway tours that visit offshore islands and historical neighborhoods.
In the fiscal year starting in April, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will create a subsidy system for steps taken to operate such tours, including the improvement of boat terminals and the establishment of multilingual signboards.
The move reflects the ministry’s hope that offering such unique experiences will draw more visitors.
In one example, cruise passengers would take a small boat to an offshore island, where they could take part in water sports or visit historical sites. Another suggestion involves tourists traveling up a river by boat in order to visit historical neighborhoods.
Those eligible to apply for the subsidies will be prefectures and municipalities that manage ports, and cruise ship companies. State funds will cover a third of the cost for the introduction of tour reservation forms in foreign languages, the building of walkways on islands and other tour-related projects.
Currently, most cruise passengers go to city centers by bus for shopping or sightseeing.
With the needs of visitors from abroad diversifying, there are calls for tours that can meet a wider variety of tourists’ demands.
The ministry believes that tours utilizing water transport systems will be attractive also in terms of avoiding time lost in heavy traffic.