Okinawa attracts almost 10 million tourists to the region, including over 3 million from abroad, breaking their record for the 6th straight year

April 27, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki announced at a regular press conference April 26 that in financial year 2018 (which in Japan ran from April 2018 through March 2019), tourist visitors to the region increased 4.4% (419,000 people) from the previous year to a total of 9,999,000 people.

The figure just barely missed the goal of 10 million visitors, however it did break the record for most visitors in a year, breaking the record set the previous year, as it has for the past 6 years straight. Domestic visitors increased by 1.6% for a total of 6,998,200, also breaking the record for the 6th year straight, and foreign visitors increased 11.5% to 3,000,800, cracking 3 million for the first time.

Governor Tamaki commented, “We did not achieve our goal of 10 million, however the result shows the strength of the Okinawa tourism industry, and was a rewarding year.

To continue this, we want to strengthen our ability to host visitors, and to work towards attracting more to the islands.”

He added that they were working towards a goal of 12 million visitors by 2021.

In March tourist visitors increased year-over-year 5.6% for a total of 884,000, the most ever in March for the region.

Due to things such as typhoons, the tourism totals in July and September decreased compared to the previous year, however with these exceptions every other month saw an increase.

Among domestic visitors, those from the Kansai region decreased 0.8% due to effects such as the temporary closing of Kansai International Airport while Typhoon No. 21 was raging, however overall the favorable market conditions continued.

Visitors from Tokyo increased 1.8% to 3,404,600 with a contribution from the new air route from Narita to Ishigaki Airport, and the direct flight from Nagoya to Naha Airport helped realize an increase of 5.4% to 598,500 visitors.

For foreign visitors, visitors who arrived by sea increased 20.6% to 1,197,100, largely due to cruise ships, breaking 1 million visitors for the first time.

Looking at visitors from abroad by region, visitors from Taiwan accounted for the largest share, increasing 12.9% to 917,700, in part due to the new air route from Kaohsiung International Airport to Naha.

Visitors from mainland China increased 27.3% to 694,800, breaking 600,000 for the first time.

Visitors traveling on routes from Bangkok, Thailand and Singapore also increased.

For 2019, Okinawa is looking to increase domestic visitors by 0.9% to 7.06 million, and to increase foreign visitors by 8% to 3.24 million.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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