Tourism to reach 8.4 million, guaranteeing Okinawa will reach its goal for fiscal year 2016

March 23, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 22, Okinawa prefecture’s Department of Culture, Tourism and Sports published its numbers regarding inbound tourism between April 2016 and February 2017. Compared to the same timeframe from the year before, 7,990,700 more people visited Okinawa, which is a 10.6% overall increase. This means that the prefecture’s goal of reaching 8.4 million tourists during fiscal year 2016 is likely, if not guaranteed, to happen. If March 2017’s results are similar to 2016’s, which was about 700 thousand people, then the total is expected to greatly surpass the goal and reach about 8.7 million tourists.

The total number of domestic tourists between April 2016 and February 2017 was 6,020,000, which is a 5.7% increase. However, it was the 1,970,700 foreign tourists, a 28.6% increase, that pushed the total upward. Starting this April, T’Way Airlines will service Naha and Daegu, South Korea, while China Eastern Airlines will service Naha and Xi’an, China. These new routes are expected to attract more foreign tourists.

The prefecture’s Tourism Policy Division predicts the following: “From March onward, in addition to increased travel demands during spring break, airline companies are also seeing favorable trends in reservations. These good trends are expected to continue.”

The total number of inbound tourists for February was 637,900, or a 2.5% increase from the previous year, which is a new record high for the month of February. A new record high for each month of the year has occurred 40 months in a row, while surpassing numbers from the previous year on the same month has occurred 53 months in a row.

The total number of domestic tourists for February was 493,800, which is a 4.5% overall increase. 241,400 (+7.1%) were from Tokyo area, 97,200 (+1.8%) from Kansai area, 64,900 (-0.6%) from Fukuoka area, and 43,600 (+6.3%) from Nagoya area.

The total number of foreign tourists for February was 144,100, which is a 3.9 % overall decrease. The Chinese New Year falling in January this year, instead of February like last year, and cruise ships making fewer stops are what caused this number to fall below the previous year’s. The last time the total number of foreign tourists for the month fell below the previous year’s was three months ago. Of the total, 45,000 (+14.8%) were from South Korea, 43,600 (+37.1%) from Taiwan, 29,300 (-32.8%) from mainland China, and 11,100 (-20.7%) from Hong Kong.

(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)

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