YOKOHAMA--The Skywalk footpath beneath the Yokohama Bay Bridge will open as early as March for the first time in nine years in anticipation of increased visitors eager to watch cruise ships.
The city government intends to promote the observation deck as a sightseeing spot where visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Yokohama Port and passenger vessels up close.
City officials and other parties will host tours when the luxury cruise ship Queen Elizabeth makes a port call and on other occasions.
The Skywalk is a city-managed pathway that opened in 1989 running under the Yokohama Bay Bridge, which is part of the Bayshore Route of the Shutoko Expressway. It consists of the 320-meter Sky Promenade walkway, with the Sky Lounge observation facility at the far end offering a 360-degree view of Yokohama Port.
The Skywalk had been open throughout the years, charging a 600-yen ($5.50) admission fee for adults. But it was closed in 2010 owing to a slowdown in the number of visitors.
City officials have been making efforts to attract cruise ships to Yokohama Port. A new cruise ship terminal will be completed at Daikoku Pier in April and another at Shinko Pier in autumn. Coupled with the existing passenger terminals at Osanbashi and Yamashita piers and other facilities, Yokohama Port will be able to accommodate seven large cruise ships at a time, the most in the world, in 2021.
Under these circumstances, the officials took note of the Skywalk from which passenger vessels can be seen passing under the Yokohama Bay Bridge. The officials said they intend to reutilize the Skywalk to organize tours and other events on a reservation basis mainly on days when the Queen Elizabeth calls at the port.
With the city government having spent 95 million yen to accelerate the improvement work on the elevator, restrooms and other facilities, the officials are set to reopen the Skywalk in March at the earliest.
According to the passenger ship business promotion section at the city government, a Japanese cruise ship on a round-the-world trip can bring economic benefits worth about 250 million yen to the area each time it makes a port call. They also want the locals to enjoy the scenery from the Skywalk and become widely familiar with cruise ships.