Travel news for the trade community

How Carnival’s new partnership will expand tourism in Japan and create Asian cruise hub

This time last year, the Japanese government announced confirmation of their plans to improve and enhance the capabilities of six ports, in order to attract investment from cruise lines and other private investors – and to take advantage of the increasing popularity of cruises with Asian tourists.

Yatsushiro port in Kumamoto prefecture, Motobu and Miyakojima in Okinawa; Yokohama and Shimizu in Shizuoka prefecture and Sasebo in Nagasaki, were all targeted for the upgrades, with Royal Caribbean and Japan’s NYK Cruises already signed up to the scheme.

Now, no doubt incentivised by the priority port access granted to project partners, Carnival Corporation have signed a first-of-its-kind, long-term strategic agreement with Sasebo to build a new terminal, with operations expected to be up and running in 2020 – the year Tokyo plays host to the 32nd Olympic Games.

As part of the agreement, Carnival have revealed they will receive full berthing preference, allowing the company to drive their cruise itineraries to the port. Carnival Corporation’s representative, president of Costa Group Asia Mario Zanetti (below, left) said this affirmed the importance of the deal.

“With nine global cruise line brands, Carnival Corporation considers its role in the long-term development of the cruise, travel and tourism industry in Asia and especially Japan as an important strategic priority,” said Zanetti.

“Through our long-term investment in the port of Sasebo, and hopefully additional Japanese ports, we hope to facilitate the rising demand for travel in this important region, allowing even more people from around the world to discover the beauty of Japan. With the world-class travel infrastructure available in many Japanese cities, we also believe that there is significant potential in collaborating with the government to develop certain Japanese ports into turnaround ports to promote more fly-and-cruise packages out of Japan. This will expand cruise tourism in Japan, by enabling the region to become a key cruise hub in Asia for global travellers.”

Zanetti added: “We are grateful for the opportunity to support growth efforts for the cruise market in Japan with this ground breaking port development agreement, and we look forward to working with the Japanese government and local governments throughout the country to further expand the Japanese cruise industry in the years to come.”

As Carnival Corporation currently has the largest cruise presence in Japan, including over 870 calls in 45 ports in Japan, with an estimated 1.8 million cruise passengers in the market, they are ideally placed, to not only profit from Japan’s cruise boom, but could also help ease the pressure of the on Japan’s existing port infrastructure.