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Higashi Village looks forward to benefits of eco-tours

Date Posted: 2003-12-06

Higashi Village on the northern part of Okinawa’s east coast is best known for its annual Azalea Festival. It is also well known for its pure water and vast pineapple fields.
This year marks Higashi Village’s 80th anniversary, and a great celebration was held on Sunday for the occasion.
Farming remains the main business in the village, but eco-tourism has in recent years become the second mainstay livelihood for the residents, with more planned.
“We have the two largest dams in the prefecture in our village, and we are determined that we can find ways to utilize them as tourist attractions,” Hiroshi Kinjo at Higashi Village Tourism Promotion Office said. “We will have canoe tours on the dams, as paddling along the banks of the dam gives visitors a very good close look at the nature,” he continued.
The village’s Azalea Festival held each March attracts some 80,000 visitors. The park received a major facelift last year and was re-named “Azalea Eco-Park.” Camping places and rental cottages were added, and a new “Adventure Project Facility” was built.
Last year more than 72,000 people visited the park, including groups of eco-tourists, school students and even business groups interested in studying nature and how to utilize natural environment without destroying it.
Kinjuo says “children are especially very interested in learning about nature, and many come back at different times of the year to study. Eco-tours are the way of the sustainable future and Higashi Village wants to be at the front of it”.

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