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Naha tries to improve service downtown for tourists

Date Posted: 2004-03-11

One of the main complaints of thousands of tourists who visit Naha City has been the lack of available toilet facilities. Other sore points include poor signs for public facilities, the lack of English language signs, and the non-existence of parking spaces.

As an interim solution, the city now has asked shops and hotels in the city’s main areas to provide their toilets for visitors to use. In exchange, the city has agreed to reimburse the water bills and the cost of toilet paper to participating shops.

As a result, many shops on Naha’s Kokusai, Okiei and Shinei streets, and Tsuboya pottery area have now posted signs stating that they have toilets available.

To let visitors to use toilets for free is nothing new, and can be even a boost for business, says Hotel New Okinawa Manager Naoki Tokashiki. “We have made our toilets available to public for a long time without any support from the city,” Tokashiki said. “But since we posted a sign at our entrance, even more people are coming. Many of those people also visit our shops, so it’s boosting our business.

But as the city tries to increase parking spaces, it has met stiff opposition from owners of private parking lots who say the city is undermining their business if it provides free or low-cost parking.

“This is a problem we must discuss more with the pay parking owners,” a Naha City General Affairs Bureau spokesman said. “The city is not in business to compete with private enterprises, but at the same time we have to ensure that visitors to the city get good service in order to attract them in the first place.”

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