Okinawa takes first place among the best places to travel to in Japan

July 22, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

On July 21, the Jalan Research Center (JRC), which belongs to the travel division of RECRUIT CO., LTD. announced the results of the “Jalan Travel and Accommodation Survey 2011.”
Okinawa won two awards in seven categories of Japan’s best places to travel by prefecture: “Many appealing specialties and souvenirs” and “Warmth of hospitality of the local people.”
Okinawa has claimed the first place in these two categories for six consecutive years since JRC started these surveys in 2006 and has ranked within the top three in the other four categories.
JRC staff commented, “Okinawa is clearly very popular as a tourist destination.”

In addition to the regular categories, JRC surveyed travel trends for 2011 in the middle of April following the Great East Japan Earthquake. Comparing destinations to which people would like to travel to with those that they actually did travel to in 2010, JRC saw Okinawa come first among other prefectures and cities with regard to the ratio of the popularity to actual results.
The three prefectures in the Tohoku area of Aomori, Akita and Yamagata followed after Okinawa.
JRC staff explained this, saying, “In the context of a transition of mood in the Japanese people’s minds from voluntary restraint to rebuilding, people see Okinawa as relatively safe and as a comfortable place to stay. Those feelings played a crucial role in increasing the popularity of Okinawa as a tourist destination.”
With regard to the relatively high popularity of Tohoku areas, the staff of JRC said, “The survey results showed that the growing number of people considering travel to these areas would like to help in terms of the economic recovery of the region.”

JRC surveyed 15500 tourists nationwide.
In the category of “Many appealing specialties and souvenirs,” Okinawa earned popularity for local specialties such as Okinawa soba (a type of noodle soup eaten in Okinawa), sea grapes and the Okinawan purple sweet potato. Okinawa’s unique culture also helps to attract tourists.
In the category of “Warmth of hospitality of the local people,” tourists mentioned they were warmly welcomed in taxis, izakaya (Japanese-style pubs), and by the people in the streets and besides those in hotels and tourist spots.

Okinawa took second place in the categories of “Many attractive accommodation facilities,” “Many tourist attractions for kids” and “Many tourist attractions for young people.” It took third place in the category of “Many tourist attractions for adults.” In the category of “Provides many delicious foods unique to the locality,” Okinawa took fourth place.

The number of the tourists to Okinawa totaled 4610000 (tenth place in Japan) and the total amount of money spent on accommodation amounted to 429400 million yen (third in Japan). Both figures were down compared with the previous year.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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