Record number of cruise ships visit Okinawa
The number of cruise ships expected to visit ports in Okinawa Prefecture this year is expected to reach a record number.
According to Okinawa General Bureau, cruise ships are expected to make 247 port calls to Okinawan ports this year, and increase of 52.5% over the year before, and the highest number ever. Specifically, the number of ships regularly visiting Hirara Port on Miyako Island has boosted up the total, as Miyako used to see only a couple of such port calls each year in the past.
The number of foreign visitors by ship increased 37.7 % from the previous year to 238,700 in 2014, which means the figure has quadrupled in four years since 2011.
On Aug. 1st, ‘Quantum of the Seas,’ the largest cruise ship in Asia at 160,000 tons with capacity of 4,000 passengers, is scheduled to call Naha Port for the first time.
According to Okinawa General Bureau analysis, factors for the increase are weaker yen and improved Naha port facilities that have increased Naha’s attractiveness as a way port. At the same time, officials at the General Bureau acknowledge that they have much work to do, like to address the limited space at the new cruise ship passenger terminal, and the number of berths available at ports of the prefecture. Businesses’ readiness to accept overseas visitors also needs improvement.