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Okinawa added to cruise line schedule

Date Posted: 2006-11-25

After years of declining cruise ship tourism traffic, Okinawa is about to see more passengers arriving on its shores.

Okinawa Ship Agent chairman M.K. Matsuda says “a large cruise ship for 2,500 passengers is going to make calls three times monthly to Naha, beginning in February 2008.” He says the 80,000 ton vessel will also make another irregular scheduled port call.

Matsuda called Okinawa a good choice, more attractive than Taiwan and China. He is asking Okinawa to increase its support facilities and local tourism activities to serve the passengers. The amount of money Naha and Okinawa can derive from cruise ship visits will depend on how long the ships are in port.

The Okinawa Ship Agent wants improvements in access from the port to the city center, tours and increased lodging options.

The Okinawa Genral Secretariat first drew up a “Harbors Vision New Century in Okinawa” plan five years ago, identifying berths and terminals for foreign travelers in Naha, Motobu, Ishigaki and Hirara.

Tourists visiting Okinawa via ship dropped radically in recent years. In 1999, 112,772 people processed through immigration into Okinawa. That number fell to 28,307 in 2003, and 49,305 in 2005. SARS was listed as a reason for the decline. This year, foreigners visiting Okinawa on cruise ships are expected to drop 50-60%.

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