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More than 200 cruise ship visits to Japan cancelled over coronavirus

This photo taken on Feb. 21, 2020 shows the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Yokohama Port, near Tokyo. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- More than 200 port calls in Japan by international cruise ships have been canceled since the beginning of February due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, a Kyodo News survey showed Saturday.

    The cancellation of so many visits scheduled for this year is likely to incur losses running to several billion yen, an industry body said, noting that each port call results in passengers spending an estimated average total of 30 to 40 million yen ($270,000 to $360,000).

    The survey of local governments hosting Japan's top 10 ports for cruise ships found that at least 206 visits have been canceled as of Friday, and the figure is expected to increase through the rest of the year.

    Among the 10 ports, Osaka has seen the largest number of cancellations at 37, followed by Hakata in southwestern Japan at 31 and Naha in Okinawa Prefecture at 25.

    By month, 121 port calls planned for February have been dropped, along with 53 port calls for March, 23 for April and nine previously planned for the May to December period.

    In most cases, operators of international cruise ships notified Japanese ports that the scheduled tours had been called off.

    The number of canceled port calls accounts for about 16 percent of 1,305 visits at the 10 ports last year. Given that demand for port calls by international cruise ships usually peaks in summer, the fallout on tourism from the virus outbreak remains uncertain.

    The city of Osaka's port bureau said it has been notified almost daily of port call cancelations for March and April.

    "It's very unusual to receive cancelations one after another like this," said an official at the bureau, which controls Osaka's port. "We are worried whether the impact will drag on into the summer."

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