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Okinawa eyes more tourists To push economic growth

Date Posted: 2004-12-30

Government and business entities have their eyes on more visitors to Okinawa.

Already a tourist destination, Okinawa’s Prefecture Tourism Resort Section has set its goal of a 4.4% increase in visitors in the coming year. They cite the new Duty Free Shopping “Galleria” and ecotourism as reasons the island can increase its tourist numbers quickly.

One official says the eco-tourism movement brings tourists who stay longer, and who have experience with nature. That means less damage to the environment, he says.

The government tourism unit’s goal is to see tourists spending an average ¥77,000 each during an Okinawa visit. That would keep the tourism boom going. Typhoons slowed travel and vacation opportunities on Okinawa this summer and fall.

A new professional baseball team created in mainland Japan has chosen Okinawa for its training location. That, Prefecture officials believe, will also increase the popularity of the islands in this southernmost prefecture.

And for the first time, tourism officials say they’re going to reach out beyond Japan to attract tourists. Long focused on drawing mainland Japanese to Okinawa, a Prefecture official says “we are going to set up tourist offices in Shanghai, China, and try to promote more tourists from there.” He says they’ll also push to get more souvenir products supporting tourism from China.

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