Promote Koza’s charms: number of Okinawa City’s tour guides reach 180

Promote Koza’s charms: number of Okinawa City’s tour guides reach 180

Trainees of the tour-guide training program learn the main talking points of the walking tour on July 16, in Okinawa City.

July 27, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa City—On July 16, the Okinawa City Tourism and Products Promotion Association (chaired by Takashi Shimabukuro) concluded its 15th tour-guide training program, which aims to cultivate leaders to disseminate Okinawa City’s diverse culture and history. With this year’s program conclusion, the total number of its graduates reached 180; about 140 of which registered with the association as certified tour guides, actively working with students visiting on school trips.

Business developments undertaken by the tourism association, such as the “Koza Machimai” and “Walking Tour of KOZA, the Military Base Town” dives deep into the various charms of Koza and has re-energized the city’s tourism from a novel perspective.

The tour-guide training program began fostering leaders in 2013. This year, 13 trainees completed a total of 8 courses, including classes on sightseeing, the city’s current situation, its history, professional code of conduct, and three practice walking tours. Guides’ ages vary, from 20s to 60s. Trainee Shigeru Chibana, 65, resident of Naha City, was born in Okinawa City. After returning to his hometown for the first time in 30 years, he said, “There is no other city with so much charm. I want to give visiting students an illuminating experience during their school trips. This is how I can give back to my hometown, where I was born and raised.” Chibana looks forward to his debut as a tour guide this fall.

According to the association, tourism records for FY2019 indicated about 8,000 visitors and 82 groups visited the city, mainly middle school- and high school-class trips from outside Okinawa, including cultural visits to see Okinawan eisa dance. Mirai Zukeran, who is in charge of the city’s tourism promotion said, “We value encounters. Guides are key to developing repeat clients who have fallen in love with Okinawa and with Koza.” Zukeran has high hopes for the role the tour-guide training program will continue to play.
(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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