Okinawa tourism expanding to Thailand with increasing promotion and flights
January 27, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
With tourists from Thailand expected to increase due to new flights between Bangkok and Naha in February, the Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) is carrying out projects to support the expanding tourism market.
In addition to making services available in Thai language at the Multilingual Contact Center, the OCVB will also distribute 30,000 Thai-language guidebooks, which will provide tourism-related information on Okinawa such as how to use the public bus system.
According to the OCVB, the majority of Thai tourists were previously tour groups coming through Hong Kong and Taipei. However the new direct flights by low cost carrier Peach Aviation are expected to increase the number of individual tourists.
The number of Thai tourists to Okinawa has been increasing since the government relaxed visa requirements for visitors from Thailand in July 2013. The number of Thai visitors between January and December in 2016 was 7,200, which was an increase of 24.1 percent compared to its previous year. The highest number of Thai visitors was in 2013 and 2016, according to data made available by the prefecture since 2012.
To promote trips to Okinawa, the OCVB will host an Okinawa booth separately from the Japan booth at the Thai International Travel Fair, the largest travel fair in the country, held in Bangkok in February.
The OCVB staff working on the Thai market explained, “Although there are only few Okinawa guidebooks available in Thai, the number of facilities providing information in Thai language has been gradually increasing such as at the Okinawa Churaum Aquarium.” The staff expects more preparation to be made by the private sector.
“Thai people tend to prefer shopping and visiting tourism facilities rather than beaches in Okinawa. The individual business owners will also need to work on preparation in advance to respond such needs.”
(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma)
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