Naha Airport breaks records with 18.54 million visitors
July 29, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Wu Li Jun
The main entrance to Okinawa, Naha Airport, recorded 18.54 million visitors over the past year. The number increased by 5.8 percent on the previous year, breaking a new record. The airport has broken its visitation record for four consecutive years. The number of users of the international airport has quadrupled over the past four years, with 2.5 million people using the airport in the past year. The number of people coming to Okinawa on domestic flights reached 16.04 million people, an increase of 0.9 percent. Factors such as the opening up of new routes as well as a drastic increase in multiple visas have contributed to the rise in the number of foreign visitors to Okinawa.
In 2008, flights between Okinawa and other countries previously only included three routes (Taipei, Seoul, and Shanghai), with a total of 19 flights per week. As of the end of 2012, there were five routes with the addition of Hong Kong, and Taichung, and 49 flights per week. In 2014, the number of routes increased to nine routes and there were 121 weekly flights. In the four years between 2012 and 2015, 104 new flights were launched, pushing up the number of passengers at the Naha Airport.
The Okinawa multiple visa issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan for Chinese individual tourists was 60,298, 3.3 times more than in 2014. This is also the highest number ever. In 2011, when the visa was introduced, the number of visas issued was 8,964. This figure was 6.7 times increase in four years previously. The weakening of the yen as well as newly established routes between Okinawa and China also contributed to the increasing number of Chinese visitors to the island.
At the same time, an access way between the international airport and the domestic terminal building was built in order to improve convenience for customers. The access way has been open since July 15. The 355-meter access way connects the domestic flights building to the second floor of the international flights building, and the newly built third parking structure.
Previously the airport did not have covered access between the domestic building and international building, which a number of customers made complaints about.
(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma)
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