Cruise ships not necessarily bonanza for local communities

Many of the IR plans include the notion of boosting cruise ship traffic to Japan as an important pillar of the business plan, but the recent experience of Nagasaki city may provide a warning that having more cruise ships in the port is not itself sufficient to benefit the local community.

A recent article by Tomohiko Nakamura, professor of economics at Kobe International University, points out that a harbor expansion project in Nagasaki succeeded in bringing many more cruise ships to the port, but the heady visions of wealthy tourists spending their cash in local shops went unrealized.

Instead, what they got were largely budget travelers quickly herded on to tour buses and looking for the local discount shop or equivalent attractions. Many local businesspeople complain that they have received no economic benefit at all.

Andrew Edsall, business development manager at CarterJMRN, a Tokyo-based market research and strategic consulting firm, observes, “The gap between expectations and reality for cruise ships is a frightening tale that could find itself repeated in inviting an IR to a smaller, regional city.”

He adds, “Without well researched and executed plans to draw a steady stream of visitors, both locally and abroad, it will be difficult for a regional IR to be economically viable.”