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Tourists use of buses, taxis on decline

Date Posted: 1998-06-13

According to research by the District Land Transport Bureau, the number of rent-a-cars in the prefecture has been rising every year. At the same time, the use of taxis and buses by tourists is down.

Officials at the bureau say that the number of rent-a-cars was 2,564 ten years ago and that number has bee risen to 4,960 as of March this year. At the same time, the number of taxis in the prefecture has been the same for past 15 years.

A clear sign of the trend is the number of rental car company employees greeting arriving tourists at the airport. An employee with Nissan Rent-a-Car Co. said that the number of their customers has been rising rapidly for the past few years. "The number of customers is about equally divided between tourists and business travelers," he said.

"The number of tourists who use taxis for their sight seeing tours is going down always," a taxi driver lamented.

One of the causes for the increase of the rent-a-car usage is the way people travel on vacations these days. According to an official at JTB, Japan's largest tour operator, tourists used to travel to Okinawa in groups and take planned tours on the island. But now more than half of the tourists come here individually with only air tickets and hotel reservation, and explore the island on their own.

Freedom to go on their own schedule is the main reason tourists cite for the preference for using a rent-a-car. Also, most of those who rent a vehicle are repeat visitors to the island.

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