Facing Olympic hotel shortage, Tokyo looks offshore

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This picture taken on July 16, 2019 shows Sun Princess cruise ship, docked in the port of Yokohama. (AFP / Behrouz Mehri)
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This picture taken on July 16, 2019 shows Sun Princess cruise ship, docked in the port of Yokohama. (AFP / Behrouz Mehri)
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This picture taken on July 16, 2019 shows Sun Princess cruise ship, docked in the port of Yokohama. (AFP / Behrouz Mehri)
Updated 18 July 2019

Facing Olympic hotel shortage, Tokyo looks offshore

  • Tokyo could be short as many as 14,000 rooms given an expected surge of Olympics-related tourism
  • Japan’s largest travel agency JTB has chartered the 1,011-cabin Sun Princess for the Olympic period

YOKOHAMA, Japan: Tokyo is facing a shortage of accommodation when Olympic fans pour into the Japanese capital for next year’s Games so officials are looking offshore — to moored cruise ships operating as floating hotels.
Despite a construction boom, Tokyo could be short as many as 14,000 rooms given an expected surge of Olympics-related tourism, according to researchers.
Local officials think one solution could be to put people up in giant ships temporarily docked off Tokyo and nearby Yokohama during the Games.
Among those on board with the idea is Japan’s largest travel agency JTB, which has chartered the 1,011-cabin Sun Princess for the Olympic period, complete with everything from jacuzzis to a theater.
The agency is offering packages that combine rooms with Olympic event tickets, but they don’t come cheap.
Two nights in a room with a balcony combined with tickets to an Olympic football match will run 200,000 yen ($1,850), while two nights in a 50-square-meter suite combined with baseball tickets will go for 724,000 yen ($6,700).
The agency said it was confident about demand, partly because “we will have a shortage of hotels of a certain standard,” said Minoru Kuge, head of JTB’s Tokyo2020 Project Office.
“Although we can’t disclose the actual numbers, we have received an excellent reaction from our customers,” he told AFP on a tour of the luxury ship.
And Kuge said he expected the package to have a special draw — “a sense of unity” among customers who will all be cheering on Olympic athletes.
Elsewhere, plans have been negotiated for the 928-cabin Explorer Dream ship to dock in Kawasaki, in western Tokyo bay.
And both Tokyo’s local government and officials in Chiba prefecture, east of the capital, are looking into additional cruise ship possibilities.
Japan’s hotel business law bans rooms without a window, but the health ministry last year issued an ordinance that allows ships with windowless cabins to be used as hotels during major events.
But experts warn that a few cruise ships may not be enough.
“It is unclear if hotels ships in the Tokyo Bay will be able to cover hotel rooms shortage,” warned a report on the issue published in October by Mizuho Research Institute.
Even the number of tourists the capital can expect remains unclear because the increase in Olympic visitors may be balanced out by other tourists opting to stay away until the Games are done.
Regardless, Tokyo officials see the ships as a novel accommodation solution, and are also planning to open a new cruise ship terminal days before the Games began.
Officials and industry experts hope using docked ships for extra hotel space will become common in the country, as a way to cater to visitors during special events, or even help people displaced during disasters.
“If a provincial city wants to host an international convention or other big events but doesn’t have enough accommodation, hotel ships can be a solution,” said Yoshimi Tajima, JTB’s senior official at the corporate business department.


Britain’s William and Kate begin ‘complex’ tour of Pakistan

Updated 4 min 26 sec ago

Britain’s William and Kate begin ‘complex’ tour of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Prince William and his wife Kate arrived in Pakistan to a red carpet welcome late Monday for their “most complex” tour to date, with Islamabad eager to tout improved security after years of violent militancy.
The couple — the Duchess of Cambridge in a sea-green shalwar kameez, and the Duke in a dark suit — were greeted by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and presented with flowers after they landed in a British government plane at a military base in Rawalpindi, the garrison city adjacent to the capital Islamabad, state television images showed.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge (@katemidleton) on


Details of the five-day visit are being kept under wraps. Security is expected to be tight for the couple’s first official trip to Pakistan, and the first visit by a British royal since William’s father Charles and his wife Camilla came in 2006.
In addition to Islamabad they are set to visit the ancient Mughal capital of Lahore, as well as the mountainous north and the region near the border with Afghanistan in the west.
Kensington Palace has called the trip “the most complex tour undertaken by The Duke and Duchess to date, given the logistical and security considerations.”
The couple are also expected to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was close friends with William’s mother, the late Princess Diana.
“I’ve always been struck by the warmth in Pakistan toward the Royal Family,” British High Commissioner Thomas Drew said in a video published to Twitter late Sunday.

Britain's William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are welcomed as they arrive in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Reuters)

The couple’s program will pay respect to Britain’s historic relationship with Pakistan, once part of colonial India, he said.
“But it will focus largely on showcasing Pakistan as it is today, a dynamic, aspirational, and forward-looking nation,” Drew continued.
They are expected to see Pakistan’s efforts to combat climate change and learn about the “complex security” of the region, among other issues, a statement from Kensington Palace said earlier this month.
Pakistan has waged a long battle with militancy which has seen tens of thousands of people killed in the past 15 or so years.
Charles’ and Camilla’s 2006 trip was tainted when they were forced to pull out of a visit to Peshawar over safety concerns after the military launched an airstrike on a religious school that killed 80 people.
But security has improved dramatically since the army intensified a crackdown on militant groups in 2015, with several countries changing their travel warnings for Pakistan as a result, and Islamabad eager to promote both tourism and foreign investment.
There are promising signs, such as the British Airways return earlier this year after more than a decade, and the slow but steady revival of international cricket.
Analysts have long warned that Pakistan is not yet getting to the root causes of extremism, however, and militants retain the ability to carry out attacks, including in urban areas.
Moments before the couple’s arrival Monday, Qureshi used televised comments to invoke the memory of Diana, who charmed Pakistanis when she visited in her official capacity in 1991.
She also made several private visits in later years to help Khan — then a cricketer-turned-opposition politician married to her friend Jemima — raise money for a cancer hospital in Lahore.
“She is held in very high esteem in Pakistan... We are happy that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are now coming,” Qureshi said.
The visit showed that Pakistan has come out of “difficult times,” he added.
Pakistan was carved out of colonial India to become independent from Britain in 1947, creating an Islamic Republic for the subcontinent’s Muslims.
Britain is home to more than a million people of Pakistani origin, making it the largest Pakistani diaspora community in Europe.