The number of tourists coming to Okinawa exceeds that of visitors to Hawaii between January and September


November 30, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo


The number of tourists visiting Okinawa in 2017 may exceed that of Hawaii, which is considered a model for Okinawa tourism. From January to September, 7,115,500 people visited Okinawa, an increase of 8.9 percent compared with the same period last year, while the number of tourists to Hawaii was 7,011,706 people, an increase of 4.9 percent. It is assumed that the gap will shrink because Hawaii expects to have many tourists for the year-end and New Year holidays. If the growth rate of Okinawa continues, the annual number of tourists in Okinawa is estimated to be 938 million people. This is higher than the yearly estimate of 9,347,850 people announced by the Hawaii Tourism Authority on the 22nd.


The number of tourists entering Okinawa has been reaching new records for four consecutive years. In 2016, the number was 8,613,100 people, only 320,000 people less than the figure for Hawaii, the world’s leading ocean resort.


Since the start of this year, Okinawa tourism has maintained a strong momentum, with tourists numbers in August exceeding one million in a single month for the first time. Although the number in October was a record high, it was only 4.1 percent higher than the same month the year before because a typhoon attacked the main island for two consecutive weeks. Whether the annual number exceeds that of Hawaii throughout the year will depend on November and December.


Tourists from abroad make up much of the increase. The number of large cruise ships was 387 in 2016, this year it has increased to 502 (annual schedule). Low-cost carrier (LCC) flights also opened new routes to cities overseas. Direct flights to Bangkok in February and to Singapore in November have also launched.


On the other hand, the average days spent per tourist in 2016 was 3.7 days in Okinawa compared to Hawaii, which was 8.9 days. The consumption amount per tourist in Hawaii is about 210,000 yen, whereas in Okinawa it is less than half that at approximately 75,000 yen.


(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)


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