The JITTI Journal
Volume 7 Issue 2
March 2020
Feature Article
Foreign Cruise Passengers in Japan

by Daisuke Takagi
1. INTRODUCTION

In recent years, the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan has rapidly increased. While most of these foreign tourists come to Japan by air travel, the number of tourists visiting Japan by cruise is increasing.

This article introduces the trends of foreign tourists enjoying cruise trips in Japan.


2. THE NUMBER OF FOREIGN CRUISE PASSENGERS VISITING JAPAN

The number of foreign passengers entering Japan by cruise ship was 2.153 million in 2019 (down 12.2% from the previous year). This is because the number of cruise passengers from China, which account for about 80% of cruise passengers visiting Japan, decreased to 1.74 million (down 14.5%). The Chinese cruise market has entered a phase of adjustment after a huge expansion from 2018, and the number of cruise passengers visiting China from Japan is expected to decrease due to a decline in the number of cruise ships dispatched to the Chinese market in 2019. By origin, the number of cruise passengers visiting Japan from central China, mainly from Shanghai, dropped sharply to 904,000 (down 32.4%), while those from northern China such as Tianjin came to 441,000 (down 17.6%). 395 million passengers visited from Hong Kong and other southern Chinese cities (up 21.9%), and 288,000 cruise passengers came from Taiwan (up 4.7%), both up from 2018. In addition, the number of foreign cruise passengers that embarked on Japanese ships in Japan has increased to 89,000 (up 20.3%) due to “fly and cruise operations” and the progression of the diversification of foreign cruise passengers.
Fly and Cruise initiatives, which package flight and cruise plans for easy booking, have increased in popularity and use by foreign passengers boarding Japanese cruise ships (image does not reflect actual spacing between aircraft and cruise ship)
3. THE NUMBER OF CRUISE SHIP CALLS

The total number of cruise ship calls to Japanese ports in 2019 decreased 2.2% from the year before to 2,867 times (1,932 foreign shipping companies and 935 Japanese shipping companies). The most calls by port are: 1st place: Naha Port, 260 times (2nd place last year: 243 times); 2nd place: Hakata Port, 229 times (1st place last year: 279 times); 3rd place: Yokohama Port, 188 times (4th place last year: 168 times). The following paragraphs explain the number of cruise ship calls operated by foreign shipping companies and Japanese shipping companies respectively.

(1) Cruise ships operated by foreign shipping companies
The number of calls at Japan’s ports by cruise ships operated by foreign shipping companies increased last year by 1.0% from 2018 to 1,932 times. By origin, the number of cruises departing from China was 893 times, down 10.6%, and the number of cruises departing from Taiwan was 241 times, down 2.4% from the previous year. Meanwhile the number of cruises departing from Japan increased by 20.0% in 2019 to 707 times.

In terms of landings, ports to call in Kyushu have decreased, while port calls at domestic areas other than Kyushu increased. The most active ports are: 1st place: Naha Port, 251 times (2nd place last year: 236 times); 2nd place: Hakata Port, 205 times (1st place last year: 263 times); 3rd place: Nagasaki Port, 178 times (3rd place last year: 215 times). As described above, the adjustment phase of the Chinese cruise market continued in 2019, and as a result of each shipping company decreasing the number of vessels dispatched to the Chinese market, the number of calls for cruise ships departing from China decreased mainly in Kyushu. On the other hand, the number of foreign cruise ships that carry out cruises to and from Japan, mainly for Japanese and Western customers (who fly into Japan to board a cruise) has increased. As a result, the number of port calls at Japan ports other than Kyushu has been increasing, and ports to call have been diversified. In addition, comparatively speaking, for cruise ships that called by price range, defined as (1) luxury ships (over US $ 400 per person per night), (2) premium ships (over US $ 200), and (3) standard ships (over US $ 70), calls by luxury ships, mainly wealthy customers from the United States and Europe, have particularly increased at ports throughout the country.

(2) Cruise ships operated by Japanese shipping companies
The number of calls at Japan’s ports by cruise ships operated by Japanese shipping companies decreased 8.1% in 2019 to 935 times.

The calls by port are: 1st place: Yokohama Port, 101 times (2nd place last year: 98 times); 2nd place: Bella Vista Marina, 100 times (1st place last year: 122 times); 3rd place: Kobe Port, 68 times (3rd place last year: 70 times). This was due to a change in the frequency of calls for cruise ships traveling around the Seto Inland Sea, mainly at Bella Vista Marina.
Luxury cruises, with wealthy passengers from the United States and Europe, have been increasingly called at ports in Japan
4. FUTURE PERSPECTIVE

The number of foreign cruise passengers visiting Japan by month showed an increase in November 2019 for the first time in 17 months. Due to the rapidly changing nature of world events, it is hard to predict what the future holds. However, earlier this year each shipping company had plans to launch additional large cruise ships into the Chinese market after 2020. They hoped that the market would expand from 2020 onward, with increasing cruise travel to and from Japan. As the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely to affect the cruise market worldwide, including in Japan, the market must be monitored closely.
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