Number of tourists to Okinawa reaches new high in first half of fiscal 2013

October 16, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On October 15, the Department of Culture, Tourism and Sports of the Okinawa Prefectural Government announced the number of tourists who came to Okinawa in first half of fiscal 2013, that is, from April to September. The total number was up by 12.8 percent to 3,379,800 over the same period the previous year, representing a new high for the first half of a fiscal year. Tourists coming from other areas of Japan went up by 10.2 percent to 3,021,200, but those from overseas increased by 40.7 percent to 358,600.

Japanese people decided to travel to Okinawa instead of going overseas because of the relatively weak yen. The opening of New Ishigaki Airport and the start of services by low-cost carriers also contributed to expanding airline routes to Okinawa from in and outside of Japan. During this period, typhoons had little negative impact on Okinawa tourism.

The number of tourists from the Tokyo area increased by 9.4 percent to 1,486,500, and those from the Kansai area were up by 19 percent to 345,100. Those from the Nagoya area increased by 11.4 percent to 241,700 and from the Fukuoka area by 6.5 percent to 355,800. The number of Taiwanese tourists increased by 67.9 percent to 172,100 with 52,400 tourists coming from Hong Kong, up 42.8 percent. The number of South Korean tourists increased 2.9 times to 36,500. However, the number of tourists from mainland China decreased by 44.8 percent to 28,600 because of the Senkaku Islands dispute between China and Japan.

The increase in the number of airline routes from Okinawa to Taiwan and South Korea and the use of larger airplanes contributed to the larger numbers of inbound tourists.

A spokesman for the department said, “Okinawa competes with other areas of Japan as a tourist destination, but there is high demand for tourism in Okinawa. While domestic tourism figures have been steady, there has been an increase in meetings, incentive trips, conferences, and exhibitions involving Taiwan. We expect to be able to achieve our target of 6.3 million tourists in fiscal 2013.”

The number of tourists coming to Okinawa this September increased to 607,400, up 19.7 percent over the same month the previous year. This is the first time that the number has exceeded 600,000 in the month of September. Tourist numbers have now posted new highs each month for seven consecutive months from March and the numbers have exceeded those for the same month of the previous years for 12 consecutive months from October 2012.

The number of tourists from Japan increased by 15 percent to 546,200, with 61,200 tourists from overseas, up by 88.3 percent. The number of tourists from China increased by 35.7 percent to 5,700.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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