More multilingual information boards to be set up throughout Okinawa

More multilingual information boards to be set up throughout Okinawa

Multilingual tourist information board in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and English on March 1 at Kumoji, Naha.

March 2, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

At the beginning of the 2012 fiscal year, the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) will set up multilingual tourist information boards throughout Okinawa, including locations in Miyako and Yaeyama. The plan is to install a vicinity map giving tourist information at 40 sites, and about 200 guidance boards giving the distance and directions to certain sightseeing facilities. This large-scale installation of tourist information boards is the first initiative of this kind. It is expected to make it easier for the increasing numbers of foreign tourists, to expand tourism-related consumption, and to help discover new tourist spots.

Tourist information will be displayed in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and English. Vicinity maps will mainly be installed around sightseeing sites, and will show the current location and the surrounding facilities. Guidance boards will be placed on roads.
The 2011 project has already seen electronic information boards giving tourist and traffic information on a touch-screen panel installed at the airport in Ishigaki City, the Ishigaki Harbor neighboring islands terminal, and at a public market.

According to an OPG survey, there are not enough vicinity maps, which are normally placed within 500 meters of a sightseeing spot, and only 58 boards are found in 340 popular sightseeing sites.

Japan has been affected by the decreased inbound tour demand due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, but the number of foreign tourists to visit Okinawa from April 2011 to January 2012 was 262,400, which is a 1.1% increase over the same period last year.
The number of foreign tourists is expected to continue to increase, and so there are strong calls to prepare to receive them.

On March 1 at a regular meeting of the Prefectural Assembly, tourism and sports official Daiichi Hirata explained, “We have installed information boards at roads, airports, ports, and other main sightseeing locations. In order to make it easier for the increasing number of foreign tourists we have experienced since 2009.” Making use of government subsidies, 125 million yen has been allocated in the fiscal 2012 budget. He explained in a response to a question from Akio Maejima of the Komei Party that a municipality subsidiary enterprise and 17 municipal governments that applied for project expenses will receive subsidies.

(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)

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