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Cruise ships from Taiwan are again welcome

Date Posted: 2003-07-11

A standoff between Taiwanese and Okinawa officials over allowing tourists to visit Okinawa has ended after 40 days. While the world was scared by the SARS epidemic that hit Taiwan especially hard, Okinawa tourism and health officials requested that Taiwanese tour organizers refrain from bringing tours to Okinawa. Now that WHO has declared Taiwan free of SARS, the tourists are welcome again.

The first large group to come was Star Cruise Line’s Super Star Gemini that docked in Nakagusuku Harbor on July 7, bringing 568 passengers and 498 crew. The passengers and crew were greeted by Miss Okinawa and Miss Okinawa City, who handed flowers to the captain of the ship. Eisa dancers and Taiko drummers also performed. Officials from Okinawa City Tourism Association and Okinawa Tourism and Convention Bureau Chief Morio Ginama were also at hand to welcome the visitors.

“We welcome you to Okinawa. We are so happy that SARS has now gone. I wish you bring many visitors from Taiwan to Okinawa and hope you enjoy your stay here,” Ginama said.

Some passengers said they were not sure when they embarked on the trip that they would be able to land in Okinawa. “We were quite worried, and not sure that we could dock here. But now I feel very welcome and would like to come again many times,” a female passenger said. Future cruises on Star Cruise ships are scheduled to dock in Motobu, according to a company spokesman.

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