Miyako logs over 510,000 visitors in 2015, most ever
Miyakojima City tourism officials announced that the number of tourists visiting Miyako Island in 2015 reached 513,601, which is the highest ever on record for the city. The number is about 83,000 higher than last year, and the first to exceed 500,000.
According to city tourism section officials, the main reason for the increased attractiveness of Miyako seems to be the new Irabu Bridge that opened in January 2015, and made news Japan-wide as the longest toll-free bridge in the nation. Miyako promoters utilized the gorgeous images of the bridge and surrounding turquoise blue waters very effectively in posters and elsewhere, and their efforts paid off.
After the opening of the bridge, Miyako Island Tourism Association reported receiving a flood of inquiries from tour companies in mainland Japan. The bridge also got a huge media coverage, and Miyako Island received its share of the notoriety.
During the peak period of August through October last year, the association counted over 50,000 visitors each month. It was even reported that the influx of tourists made it difficult for the local residents to get air tickets.
As a result, airlines increased the number of flights to Miyako to alleviate the problem. All Nippon Airways (ANA) even resorted to charter flights during the busiest period.
Since then, ANA has introduced regular direct flights between Miyako and Haneda in Tokyo, and Miyako and Kansai from this March. A large cruise ship is scheduled to call Miyako Port over 100 times this year, leading Tourism Association officials expect that the visitor count could increase to over 600,000 in 2016.