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Officials fear war's impact on Okinawa tourism

Date Posted: 2003-03-28

The crisis in Iraq is already taking a toll on this island prefecture. The Okinawa Prefecture Tourism and Visitors' Bureau says 2,700 visitors have cancelled their trip to the prefecture since the war in Iraq got under way, most stating fears for their security as the reason. Most are from Osaka and Tokyo areas, and are school students making their annual group trips.

Overall, the number of tourists visiting the prefecture has increased every month since the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. caused the number of visitors to Okinawa to plunge as much as 40 percent. This year, the number of visitors first time exceeded the pre-September 11 numbers on month-to-month basis. The prefecture has worked hard to promote Okinawa and ensure people that it is a very safe tour destination.

Officials now worry that the war will start a new cycle of cancellations. Having learned from their past experience, and in order to counter any ill effects, they have already started a counter offensive emphasizing the safety of the prefecture. Officials also say that this time they will get strong support from the central government. The Ministry of Education is planning to send pamphlets on the same subject to every public school throughout the nation.

Other measures include videos and CDs that will show how peaceful and safe Okinawa really is.

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