Symposium to boost Japan-China tourism
June 23, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo
On June 22, at the Okinawa Convention Center in Ginowan, as part of the Japan-China Tourism Exchange Conference, the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) and the Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau held a symposium on tourism. The conference was held to mark the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China, the 15th anniversary of the establishment of Okinawa-Fujian friendship relations, and the 40th anniversary of the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty. In a subcommittee meeting it was reported that the total number of multiple-entry visas for Chinese tourists is expected to reach 20000 in the first twelve months since these visas were first issued last July. All of the panelists and participants confirmed their desire to develop a better understanding of the new level of tourism between Japan and
China that has been stimulated by the multiple-entry visas.
The symposium was attended by the vice commissioner for international affairs, Tadashi Shimura, the vice chairman of the China National Tourism Administration, Wu Yue Zhong, the director of the Japan Association of Travel Agents, Yoshikazu Higashi, columnist Yoshikazu Kato, and the deputy director general in charge of tourism of the OPG, Yoshiro Shimoji, as panelists discussing the meaning and the future of tourist exchanges.
All of the panelists shared the view that tourism is important to boost understanding between Japan and China. Wu stated, “In order to deepen mutual understanding and trust, we would like to encourage tourism exchanges in concert with the Japanese tourism industry.”
Kato pointed out that because a stable political environment is a prerequisite for Japan-China exchange, cooperation from the national governments and strategies that involve the tourism industry are very important. He also commented, “From an historical and a geographical point of view, Okinawa has the potential to serve as a bridge to connect the two nations.”
With regard to strategies for promoting tourism, Shimura said that is important to enhance tourists’ satisfaction, saying, “I hope that Okinawa continues to create and advertise the new facets of its tourism profile, such as sports and medical-related initiatives.”
Higashi stated that attracting Chinese tourists represents a huge business opportunity for local communities, and suggested that private companies should ask the government to improve the environment to help enhance visitors’ satisfaction.
In the context of increasing numbers of inbound Chinese tourists, Wu requested that the conditions for the issuing of multiple-entry visas be eased. Shimoji also suggested relaxing the visa regulations in stages in order to further enhance mutual exchange. He said, “Okinawa is a model for multiple-entry visas. If we can further develop mutual understanding that will lead to the easing of the visa’s requirements. I hope that Okinawa can become a place where people think about exchange with others and about coexistence.”
(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)
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