Increase in foreign tourists visiting Okinawa leads to shortage in hotel rooms

February 19, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo 

The number of foreign tourists visiting Okinawa rapidly increased during observation of the Lunar New Year which began on February 18. The shortage of hotel rooms in Okinawa has been due to overlapping events such as professional baseball spring training camps and school trips. Some of the hotels had almost full occupancy from the 19th to the 21st.

Usually, travel agencies keep a hold on rooms, but they cancel bookings for the week of Lunar New Year. However, due to the increasing number of foreign tourists taking advantage of low cost carriers and charter flights from overseas, those rooms have not been made available.

There has been an increase in reservations from individual customers anticipating the travel agencies’ Lunar New Year cancellations. To deal with the shortage of accommodation, some hotels have responded accordingly by recommending less occupied hotels to the customers.

According to the Okinawa Tourist Service (OTS), the hotels on the main island of Okinawa were almost fully occupied from the 19th to the 21st. A representative of OTS said, “While it is also because of the overlapping Lunar New Year and baseball camps, the rapid increase in inbound tourists is a major cause of the shortage of rooms.”

The Okinawa Prefectural Government as well as the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau has started hearing investigation into twenty tourism agencies that provide service to foreign tourists, to respond to the scarcity of accommodation. A request to provide information on room availability has also been made to the Prefectural Hotel Association as well as the Prefectural Hotel and Inn Environmental Health Association.

According to the prefectural government, some tourists on group tours have been staying at different hotels as the high demand makes it very difficult for the tour members to all stay at the same hotel. However, there has been no report of overbooking or cases where tour groups are not able to stay at hotels.

(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma) 

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