Number of tourists to Yaeyama Islands reaches 810,000

December 19, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On December 18, the Yaeyama Office of the Okinawa Prefectural Government announced the figures for the estimated number of inbound tourists to the Yaeyama Islands. From January to October it was up to 810,000 people, a 32.5 percent increase over the same period the previous year, and a new high for a year. This was achieved in just ten months.

The Yaeyama Visitors Bureau was aiming for 800,000 inbound tourists this year, but the target was exceeded two months before the end of the year. They hope that the final figure will exceed 900,000.

According to the office, this is the first time in the history of the Yaeyama tourism that the annual number of inbound tourists has exceeded 800,000. The previous record was 787,502, set in 2007.

The opening of the New Ishigaki Airport on March 7 stimulated tourism to Yaeyama, with inbound numbers breaking previous records each month since April. In July the number of tourists exceeded 100,000 for the first time and then went beyond that figure in August and September.

Despite typhoons causing cancellations of flights in October, in comparison to the same period the previous year the number of tourists was still up by 50.2 percent to 83,648.

The commencement of services by low-cost carriers due to the runway extension, the increase in the number of direct flights to the main islands of Japan and charter flights to overseas destinations all contributed to the increase in the number of inbound tourists.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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