Some 3,400 Chinese cruise tourists descended on the Japanese port of Muroran, clearing out souvenir stores and leaving locals stunned by their staggering purchasing power, according to a report from the Hong Kong-based Oriental Daily.
The MS Voyager of the Seas, operated by the Miami-based Royal Caribbean International, docked in Muroran on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido carrying 3,400 Chinese tourists on May 29. They split up into about 80 groups and tour buses were soon swarming to local places of interest including hot springs and the scenic site known as the Earth Cape over the course of a single day.
Locals said they had never seen anything like it before in their lives, with one man calling it “the great Chinese migration.”
A 73-year-old owner of a souvenir shop told reporters that his sales that day exceeded the rush usually experienced during the three-day Bon Festival, the local Buddhist festival held during the summer to honor the spirits of ancestors.
The Hokkaido transport bureau chimed in, noting that it was the first time so many Chinese tourists have visited Hokkaido all at once.
Japanese travel agency Miki Tourist said it is promoting cruises to China and that the cruise marked the first time Hokkaido has been included in an itinerary where the voyage begins and ends in China.
The MS Voyager of the Seas, which has a total capacity of 3,600 passengers, departed Tianjin in northern China on May 23. Following stops in Kobe and Yokohama, the ship arrived and left Muroran on May 29 before returning to Tianjin on June 2.