but also Europeans and Americans which are both more mature markets when it comes to travelling. We also need to attract wealthier tourists. The new second runway at Naha

Airport and terminal installation will only make it easier for growing numbers of visitors to come to Okinawa.

There has been a low-cost carrier (LCC) terminal in operation since 2012. How much is Okinawa’s success built on this market? What are the domestic international splits and are you happy with those? The number of LCC users account for about 10% of domestic airline passengers arriving at Naha Airport and about 40% of international airline users. Thanks to the LCCs, long-distance travel at low prices has become possible and flying to the island has become a standard way to get there. Therefore, many travellers and business passengers have started to use those carriers and their share of the market has been increasing year on year.

In addition, no-frills airlines have

created new demand for travel to Okinawa by attracting passengers who have never used aircraft in the past as well as price-sensitive passengers. Okinawa is also at the southern tip of Japan, so we want to target the rapidly growing demand for aviation in Asia and play a role as a gateway to the continent. It should also be noted that the

current LCC terminal has been initially set up in the cargo area, but operations are scheduled to move to the expanded Naha Airport Terminal in 2020. As a result, expectations are rising for further improvement in facilities at Naha Airport, including transit services.

How are the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) and Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB) working together to ensure future success? In addition to planning tourism promotion measures, the OPG has been formulating route development strategies like preparing route attraction incentives.

Meanwhile, the OCVB, has been

using its expertise to work on tourism promotion measures, both in the case of attracting tourists and ensuring they get a good reception. Staff at the bureau have been promoting various types of conventions and have been doing so in close cooperation with the prefectural government. The Department of Culture, Tourism and Sports of the OPG, which is in


Zakimi Castle, Okinawa prefecture

Standing on the world’s bridge

Okinawa used to be an independent trading nation called the Kingdom of the Ryukyu and has a long history of commercial ties to other overseas countries, including Japan, Korea, China and elsewhere in south-east Asia. Staff working on behalf of the

prefecture are keen to continue this tradition inherited from our forefathers and continue to serve as the Bankoku Shinryo – the Bridge of the World. Delegates attending Routes Asia

2017 in March will be struck by five key attractions – including the people, who are known for their warm hospitality. Okinawa also has a unique

atmosphere while being rich in traditions that nod to those of many of its neighbours, from China to south-east Asia, thanks to its trading history. Culture is just as strong and the

prefecture boasts a number of Unesco World Cultural Heritage sites, including the Gusuku sites and the related properties of the kingdom of Ryukyu. Food is another key attraction of Okinawa and it is known for a number of local delicacies, from its award- winning Motobu beef to its Agu pork. Our chefs are also known for their skills and sophistication. Finally, its semi-tropical climate and various islands mean visitors can enjoy everything from the clear, emerald green waters of the ocean to evergreen forests. Indeed, such is the beauty of the islands, in January 2013 Okinawa was added to the provisional list of Unesco World Natural Heritage sites.

charge of route attraction, is working with other relevant departments. Using the opening of Routes Asia as an opportunity, the OPG believes that by strengthening this kind of collaboration, it can also strengthen the system to attract routes more effectively. This can be done by growing the knowledge related to route attraction, building networks and presenting optimal proposals to airline companies.

This is the first time a Routes event is being held in Japan. How does that feel? Okinawa is aiming to become a global standard tourist resort area with the target of attracting 10 million tourists and one trillion yen ($8.77 billion) in tourism spend by 2021. We recognise that hosting Routes Asia will be something that will have a major impact on tourism in the prefecture. What’s more, Okinawa believes it

is a frontrunner in efforts by Japan as a whole to become a leading tourist destination, attracting 40 million visitors per year. We want to help to increase the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan and contribute to Japanese tourism. We have received the full support of a number of central government organisations in hosting Routes Asia, including the Japan Tourism Agency and JNTO. We believe that hosting Routes Asia

in Okinawa will allow the Routes Asia participants to build direct networks with experts in all fields of the Japanese aviation market. This means there will be excellent opportunities to bring about benefits for both Japan and the Routes Asia participants. £

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