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ROUTES ASIA Okinawa


Q&A Mitsuyuki Maeda


director general, department of culture, tourism and


sports, Okinawa prefectural government


Why has Okinawa chosen now to host Routes Asia? Okinawa prefecture considers tourism to be the island’s leading industry. Our latest tourism development


strategy, The Fifth Basic Plan on the Promotion of Tourism in Okinawa, runs until 2021 and sets the goals of “developing global standard tourist and resort destinations”. Within six years’ time, we aim to generate $8.6 billion in tourism revenue and attract 10 million tourists to the region, including two million international tourists. The plan includes a number of measures and is being run under the slogan: “Be. Okinawa.” As a consequence of our


promotional work to date, 7.22 million visitors entered Okinawa by air up until November 2016 – an increase of approximately 10% compared with the same period in the previous year. That illustrates the robust growth in the tourist industry in Okinawa we are currently enjoying. While 1.25 million international


tourists visit Okinawa via air, most are from Taiwan and Korea, which are our priority markets. For Okinawa, it is important that


we further develop and expand air routes in order to become a “global standard tourist destination”. We can do this through the


dynamic development of business with other Asian countries, interaction with east Asian and south-east Asian markets and by meeting the demand of Europe and America for long-term resort stays. Meanwhile, Okinawa is well acknowledged as a popular tourist destination within Japan and


66 ISSUE 1 ROUTES NEWS 2017 routesonline.com


approximately 80% of domestic tourists are repeat visitors. We would like to promote Okinawa


to both aviation route decision makers and tourism developers who are participating in Routes Asia 2017 and starting onward negotiations Okinawa also has geographical


advantages when it comes to access from Asian countries. Hosting Routes Asia 2017 in Okinawa will provide an excellent opportunity for the participants to discover the outstanding opportunity Okinawa offers to Japanese cities, including Tokyo and Osaka, as well as other Asian cities such as Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Bangkok. It is also an advantage for Okinawa


that there are world-famous and prestigious hotels such as the Ritz- Carlton, Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton in the prefecture. Okinawa has long been a popular


resort destination in Japan, but in recent years its level of recognition overseas has also grown rapidly. Okinawa prefecture appeared in the New York Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2017”, and in April 2016 Iriomote Island, which is part of the Okinawa prefecture, was the only Japanese island selected in the Top 10 Best Islands in Asia in TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards. In a survey of foreigners’ awareness


of Japanese tourist destinations carried out by American consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, in April this year, Okinawa ranked second behind Mount Fuji and ranked ahead of the Kyoto area and Kamakura area. Okinawa also ranked sixth among the seven “top


Okinawa in numbers Passengers: In the 10 months to November


2016, 7.22 million visitors entered Okinawa by air, a rise of about 10% for the same period in 2015.


Primary connections: Naha Airport, the


prefecture’s primary facility, has 33 domestic routes and 11 international routes.


Future hopes: Okinawa’s tourism development strategy aims to attract 10 million tourists, generating $8.77 billion in revenue, by 2021.


Naha Airport


holiday destinations” 2017 selected by major UK tourism search engine Skyscanner and was the only tourist destination in Asia ranked in this list. Skyscanner recommended people


should visit Okinawa as it has the “the most beautiful and mysterious ocean in the world”. As the host of Routes Asia, Okinawa


prefecture staff are already looking forward with great excitement to showing our guests around these beautiful islands. Okinawa is Japan’s southernmost island, and I am certain that our guests will be fascinated by a visit to Shuri Castle, which has been registered as a Unesco World Heritage Site.


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