Over 600000 tourists visit Okinawa in August

September 15, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 14, the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) Department of Culture, Tourism and Sports announced that the number of tourists who visited Okinawa this August was 607200 people. This represents a 2.4 percent increase over the same month last year, and this is the seventh month in a row in which last year’s figures have been exceeded. The number of inbound Japanese tourists rose 0.4 percent to 562100, with foreign tourists jumping 34.2 percent to 45100 people in August, the largest number ever. A spokesman for the OPG said, “We had typhoons at the beginning and the end of August, but travel to Okinawa was stable.”

Because of the typhoons, only one cruise ship visited Okinawa during this period, the liner Voyager of the Seas from Shanghai. However, compared with last year, transport options by air and sea have been expanded and the number of tourists from abroad has increased.

If we look at the tourists by country and region, those from Taiwan increased 21 percent to 17300 people (38.4 percent of the total). Tourists from China increased 189.5 percent to 11000 people (24.4 percent), those from Hong Kong fell 8.8 percent to 7300 people (16.2 percent), Korea increased 20 percent to 2400 people (5.3 percent), the United States increased 33.3 percent to 400 people (0.9 percent) and those from other countries increased 28.8 percent to 6700 people (14.9 percent).

The number of Japanese tourists visiting Okinawa has not risen greatly because the strong yen led to people going abroad and because of Typhoon Bolaven, which hit Okinawa in the weekend of summer vacation.

The number of tourists from the main islands of Japan is expected to gradually increase because low-cost carriers have started flights to Okinawa. At the same time, a staff member of the Prefectural Tourism Policy Division stated, “There is a negative reaction in China against Japan’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands or Diaoyutais, so people may start to cancel their trips to Japan.”

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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