Tourism promotion links 7 cities, 105 businesses

The hands-on experiences offered under Nambu-Zembu program range from rope-works, once a part of the trade for every fisherman, to diving and cooking classes, all offered by 105 southern Okinawa-based businesses and coordinated by Okinawa Visitors’ Bureau.

It’s new, novel and quite different from anything ever tried before by local Okinawa communities in central and southern reaches of the island, as they reach out to promote more business.

Working with the slogan “Wattaa ‘Shima ga Ichiban”, meaning Our Island is Number 1, the program which runs from Saturday through November 18th involves Naha, Itoman, Tomigusuku, Nanjo, Yaese, Haebaru and Yonabaru, and their tourism associations and chambers of commerce and industry.  They’ll be promoting arts and crafts, diving and marine leisure, family games, cooking classes, rope works, marine life, public farmers’ market activities and yoga classes,, and a whole lot more.

Supporting the events are the Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau, Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo, NHK Okinawa, RBS, Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting and OTV, FM Okinawa and Radio Okinawa.

Okinawa Zenbu-Nanbu Exposition is a series of events that highlights everything the southern part of Okinawa’s main island, and its neighborhood community groups and seven southern local governments can offer. This series of events has been created in cooperation with the Okinawa Visitors’ Bureau as a grassroots effort for community revitalization, creating new content for and attract more visitors to the southern region.

Organizers hope that visitors can join together with everyone, and create and nurture a new type of tourism in the southern region of Okinawa. They ask that those participating in the program experiences to answer a simple questionnaire to help Okinawa Visitors’ Bureau and the local municipalities develop attractive new alternatives for the region.

This exposition was created by joining forces with local people to create what is called the experience program 105 that covers all of the southern part of Okinawa including all four cities in the area.

The southern part of Okinawa has recently not been a major tourist destination, although it has its share of Gusuku (ancient castle) landscape and nature, and many ancient places of worship that have been extensively researched. However, agriculture and fisheries remain the primary industries in the region. The new experience program was created as a combination of all these.

Experiences like walking around towns, hands-on cooking, and guided regional tours made by using local resources, such as marine produce where you can enjoy the sea of Okinawa, the contents of the program offer a wide range of activities from cultural and historical to modern-day activities.  Creators of the program think that through the experiences tourists, and also the people of Okinawa, can actually interact with the local community, and be able to rediscover the charm of the south. This program allows visitors to have a relationship with local communities because of a high degree of community-based programs and exchanges with the local people, to become fans of the area, and be able to feel the hospitality.

Also, for residents and others who support and provide for the program, it helps them to rediscover the spirit of the region, to appeal to the visitors, including people from outside of the region, and even convey to the next generation these ideas.