Okinawa Wedding Committee hopes to develop the Chinese market with resort weddings, wedding albums, and special visas

Okinawa Wedding Committee hopes to develop the Chinese market with resort weddings, wedding albums, and special visas

October 23, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Okinawa Resort Wedding Committee (Yoshiaki Ogawa, spokesperson), made up of representatives from wedding-industry companies, has been working to develop the Chinese market. The committee is looking to establish a “Resort Wedding Tourism” business model that combines resort weddings and local sightseeing, and they were selected for the Japan Tourism Agency’s (JTA) business model project. The team is looking to strengthen their PR for Chinese customers, a relatively stagnant customer base, and hopes to increase demand on mainland China and attract new customers.

According to the committee, in 2017, the number of resort weddings increased 10% from the previous year to 17,288. Domestic customers accounted for 80% of that number, with Taiwan and Hong Kong accounting for most of the customers from abroad. There were only 164 weddings from mainland Chinese customers, and committee member Toshihiko Uechi indicated that the stagnant customer figures is due to, “an information wall in China, despite the large number of flights [from China].”

The Okinawa Resort Wedding Committee discussing Chinese customer needs with Chinese wedding sales companies in Beijing (photograph provided by the committee)

Mika Kawano, along with the committee’s inbound promotion members, traveled to Beijing from October 10-13 to meet with 6 wedding sales companies, where they learned about Chinese customers’ needs. There are approximately 12 million weddings in China annually, with 20,000 of those having their ceremonies overseas. Popular destinations include Bali in Indonesia and Phuket in Thailand. One unique characteristic of Chinese wedding ceremonies is the demand for a wedding videos staring the bride and groom. Kawano says, “The wedding videos, which they can take with them and show to others, is popular.” There are companies that specialize in the creation of these wedding videos, and the proportion of income gained from these videos leans heavily towards customers from distant regions.

Chinese wedding sales companies have indicated that customers have noted the need for a visa when coming to Okinawa as well as the inconvenience of not being able to drive a rental car with a Chinese driver’s license. Conversely, many Chinese customers are fond of, “the beaches that are more beautiful than Bali,” as well as Japan’s renown high quality. There is an indication of an appetite for buying wedding plans in Japan, and “if the wedding is in Japan, the expensive price tag is not an issue.”

On December 1, the committee will be sending eight companies to a wedding convention in Beijing. The committee is also in talks to invite Chinese wedding sales companies to Okinawa, and they are making a PR video to strengthen sales in the region. Uechi said, “We are aiming to add value with drones and VR, and to increase consumer spending and extend the length of stay on the island.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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