Effects of Hokkaido tourist boat accident continue to linger in Shiretoko

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tourists board a small sightseeing boat on Saturday in Shari, Hokkaido.

SHARI, Hokkaido — Tourist boat operators in Shiretoko, Hokkaido, have resumed services three months after the Kazu 1 sank off the Shiretoko Peninsula with 26 people aboard.

But the effects of the accident continue to linger and local tourism been rocked significantly. Tourist numbers have been markedly down, even during the summer vacation season, which is normally a peak time for tourism in the area.

In the Utoro district of Shari — positioned as a gateway for visitors to the area — both of the major hotels have experienced a slump in reservations for August that has outstripped the same month last year, during the fifth wave of the novel coronavirus.

Boat tours are a mainstay of Shiretoko tourism, but passenger numbers on the boats that have resumed operations have fallen to about 20% of pre-pandemic levels.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry last month revoked the license of Shiretoko Pleasure Boat, the Kazu I’s operator.