Merchants on Kokusai Street worry about communication
The Kokusai Street Commercial Avenue Promotion Association survey has found that both shop owners of the area and foreign customers worry about communicating with each other. Both groups also want to find staff, who can do translations, or get some kind of IT communication tools to use.
An association representative says the number of foreign visitors to the Kokusai Street is increasing every year, but currently most shops can serve them only using body language. “It can be said that even if the big number of visitors from overseas that the prefecture tourism officials are talking of as their target came to Okinawa, our side would not be ready to take care of them,” he said.
The survey was conducted among Kokusai Street shop owners and foreign visitors Oct. through Nov. 2012. The most common answer to the question “What is the biggest trouble serving a foreign customer” was “We can not communicate with them.”
The answers for the question “How do you communicate with foreigners?” were “with gestures” and “writing messages to communicate.” Some shop owners are also using translation applications in their smart phones.
Foreign visitors were asked the same questions, and they also said the biggest trouble was “communication.” Most pointed out that while they appreciate the style the shop clerks are attending them, there is too little information in foreign languages. They also pointed out the wireless LAN support in the area is not good enough. Other common complaints included “It’s hard to get tourism information,” and the need to have more bilingual tour staff.
The street association says they try to help their members by requesting support from the government or local residents.