All aboard: Japan strikes gold with plan to use cruise ships for Olympics accommodation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 4:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 4:20pm

The Japanese government is exploring ways to use cruise ships in order to cope with accommodation shortages expected during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, government officials said on Thursday.

Ministries and other central government offices involved in accommodation issues for the games joined hands with municipalities and cruise ship operators to begin assessing the feasibility of the “hotel ship” idea in a task force meeting held on Thursday.

High on the agenda are legal issues related to port calls and use of cruise ships as accommodation facilities for a fairly long period of time, the officials said, adding other topics being discussed in detail include customs duties on meals to be served in restaurants inside ships.

Accommodation shortages during the July 24-August 9 Olympics and the August 25-September 6 Paralympics have emerged as a major headache for both the public and private sectors, with the government aiming to boost the number of foreign visitors to 40 million in 2020.

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According to officials with knowledge of accommodation issues during recent Olympics, cruise ships were used during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi and 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

An official at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism says Tokyo and Yokohama ports, which are capable of handling large-scale luxury cruise ships, are inevitably among top candidates for the “hotel ship” plan.