Japan welcomes back cruise ships

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08:00:21 - November 23, 2022

Japan’s Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito confirmed that Japan will allow international cruise ships to dock at its ports, lifting a more than two-year ban imposed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The department has determined that it has fully prepared guidelines drawn up by industry associations to prevent the spread of the disease. Passengers showing signs of infection should be tested. Passengers who test positive and have close contact will be quarantined. Even in the event of an outbreak, the ship can continue its journey as long as the ship’s doctor determines that the virus can be contained. However, the ship’s itinerary will be shortened if more than 10% of passengers are infected.

Cruise companies will hold discussions with the local authorities of the port of visit and seek approval for docking. All crew members must be vaccinated three times against the virus, and more than 95% of passengers must be vaccinated at least twice as directed.

In 2019, 2.15 million tourist passengers visited Japan, spending about 575 million USD, with 1,932 stops made by foreign tour companies and 934 stops made by domestic trains. According to the Japan International Tourism Commission, 166 visits by foreign cruise ships are scheduled to begin next March.

In October, South Korea and Taiwan also announced their readiness to welcome back international cruises. However, due to boating laws, such announcements would have had little impact without Japan. Because this is a very important country for excursions in Northeast Asia with about 100 ports of call.

Taiwan has lifted its ban on international cruises and ended the mandatory quarantine for arrivals from abroad effective October 13. Passengers must present a negative COVID rapid test upon arrival in Taiwan or the day before.

On October 19, it was announced that foreign tourists will be allowed to disembark from the ship to Jeju Island, South Korea. Jeju will welcome 32 cruises from Japan starting in March 2023. Cruise travel to Jeju Island peaked in 2016 with more than 1.2 million visitors.

Previously, Hong Kong also lifted the travel ban in October 2022. Agents serving the Hong Kong cruise market forecast the return of cruises in the second quarter of 2023.

With the worldwide tourism industry returning to pre-pandemic levels, mainland China remains the only major tourism market where cruises have yet to be approved.

Japan welcomes back cruise ships

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