National

Over 400 cruise ship visits canceled at Japan ports due to COVID-19

Kyodo

At least 443 port calls by cruise ships at major ports from February to December have been canceled, with many ship operators halting services amid fears over COVID-19, a Kyodo News tally showed Monday.

The cancellations at Japan’s 10 largest ports for cruise ships could result in the loss of more than ¥10 billion ($90 million) to local economies.

A number of cruise ship operators have suspended services since infections were found among passengers and crew aboard the Diamond Princess, which was quarantined in Yokohama. Cruise service cancellations have also increased as more countries implemented travel restrictions.

Cruise ship operator NYK Cruises Co. said last month that it canceled trips from March and April, as it had decided to “prioritize safety” of passengers.

Among the 10 ports, Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture saw the largest number of cancellations, at 86, followed by Yokohama at 81 and Hirara in Okinawa Prefecture at 67, according to the local governments.

For March alone, the number of cancellations totaled 159, with no port calls scheduled at six of the 10 ports including those three. Port calls by cruise ships usually peak in the summer season.

Some cruise ships were docked during the month at ports in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, the city of Nagasaki and the city of Kagoshima for the purpose of refueling and taking on supplies, with no passenger disembarkations.

According to the Japan Oceangoing Passenger Ship Association, a port call by a cruise ship with 3,000 or more passengers aboard typically has an economic impact of about ¥30 million to ¥40 million on the local economy through spending by passengers.

Based on this estimate, the cancellation of 443 port calls would be a loss of ¥13 billion to ¥18 billion.

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