Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau host meeting to discuss tourism issues, consider tightening regulations

Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau host meeting to discuss tourism issues, consider tightening regulations

Representatives from Okinawa’s various tourism organizations meeting to discuss issues in Okinawa’s tourism industry. July 5, Okinawa Karate Kaikan in Tomigusuku

July 7, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB, Yoshiro Shimoji, president) held the first 2019 meeting of the “Okinawa-wide Tourism Association Conference” at the Okinawa Karate Kaikan in Tomigusuku July 5, which brings together the tourism associations from each of Okinawa’s cities, towns, and villages to discuss undertakings and issues related to tourism. Each municipality reported the problems that came with the increase in tourism, which OCVB president Yoshiro Shimoji recognized, “The key word for the era when the goal was to increase tourism was deregulation, however is it now necessary to tighten regulations to some extent.”

The conference was attended for the first time by the tourism associations from Nakagusuku and Ogimi, which were formed this year.

In Onna, which is seeing a surge of resort weddings, there was also been an increase of cases of people trespassing onto resident’s properties and beaches to take photos.

The Onna Tourism Association has begun offering a service to help people obtain the necessary local permits to have a photo shoot on the beach. The fee for the service is 3,000 yen, and in half a year it has raised 2 million yen.

1,000 yen of the fee is returned to the municipality, an example of how the tourism association was able to increase income independently.

In Ishigaki, there have been five reported cases of deaths related to marine leisure activities, and Ishigaki Tourism Association President Hiroaki Omatsu disclosed, “Groups that are not part of the Yaeyama Diving Association are causing the incidents. There is a problem with the leniency around opening a diving shop, which is threatening safety,” and identified the flood of low-cost diving services were a particular problem.

He also disclosed that, “There was even an example of an organized crime group having a shop.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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