Record 658,700 tourists visit Okinawa in September
October 21, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
On September 20, the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) announced a new monthly record for tourist visitation numbers in Okinawa. A total of 658,700 people visited Okinawa in September. This is the 24th consecutive month in which the previous year’s figures have been exceeded. The number of tourists who came to Okinawa in the first half of fiscal 2014, that is, from April to September, was up by 10.3 percent to 3,728,100 over the same period the previous year. A spokesperson from the OPG said, “If the trend continues, the number will exceed our target of 6.9 million tourists in the 2014 fiscal year, reaching 7 million.”
The OPG set a target of 6.9 million tourists in the 2014 fiscal year, which required a 319,700 increase from the number in the 2013 fiscal year. If the number of tourists visiting Okinawa in the last half of fiscal 2014 increases over the same period the previous year, the figure will not only exceed the target but also reach 7 million.
The OPG predicts that expansion of airline routes, increase in the number of cruise ships visiting Okinawa and the cheap yen will contribute to steady growth in the number of tourists visiting Okinawa. Despite Super Typhoon Phanfone and typhoon Vongfong, which are likely to have slowed tourist numbers in October, the figure is expected to remain on par with the previous fiscal year owing to the increase in group tours such as school trips.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Okinawa is increasing significantly. The monthly number of tourists visiting increased by 63.2 percent this September, setting a new record. The number of foreign tourists coming to Okinawa in the first half of fiscal 2014 was up by 49.9 percent to 537,500 over the same period the previous year. The OPG predicts that a scheduled increase in the number of cruise ships visiting Okinawa and an increased exemption for consumption tax on various products, which started on October 1, will have boosted the number of foreign tourists visiting Okinawa in October.
At first, the OPG set an annual target of 6.7 to 6.8 million tourists for the 2014 fiscal year, which would have brought the growth rate up to 4.9 percent from 3.4 percent in the 2013 fiscal year, which was initially forecast to have 6.48 million visitors. After it was confirmed that 6.58 million tourists visited Okinawa in the 2013 fiscal year, the OPG revised up the target to 6.9 million.
(English translation by T&CT)
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