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Tourism increases spawn new Okinawa training opportunities

Date Posted: 2005-07-15

A local Okinawa university is jumping into the tourism field.

Ryukyu University recognizes the burgeoning tourism industry and its potential for Okinawa, and is developing curriculum to train people to meet those needs. The newly created Tourism Division will teach Okinawans everything from the history of tourism to modern techniques in catering to tourists’ needs. A school official also emphasizes there’ll be a number of classes focused on how students venturing into the workplace can make money working the tourism industry.

Academic certifications in tourism and tourism-related disciplines are sweeping Japan. There was only one university that taught tourism-related courses in 1967; now there are many. There also dozens of vocational and technical schools geared specifically to the tourism industry being spawned across the nation.

Private tourism training companies and schools broke into prominence in 1993. Ryukyu University officials say they’ve been monitoring the trends for many years before making the decision to set up its own Tourism Division. A university official says “Okinawa’s industrial base in centered on tourism being the number one revenue business, and we’re very surprising how tourists are increasing at a high tempo.” He notes it is more than Okinawa expected, and growing at a faster pace. That’s why “the university thought we have to give more response to tourists to make them happy and comfortable.”

Turning tourists into repeat visitors is the goal, and he says the university decided to create a major active study to fill the needs. He says student response is “Yes, we want to study tourism.”

Ryukyu University graduates with the tourism education behind them will fill critical positions with first class hotels, tourist and travel agencies, and with such growth industries as Eco-Tours. The Eco-Tours are “experiences tours” taking tourists to a “slow life” visiting Okinawa in all its splendor.

There are tours developing now that take tourists to the field whether they share in planting and harvesting fruits, studies of traditional crafts, music, arts and pottery.

Ishigaki and Miyako in the Yaeyama Islands Group are at the forefront of the ‘up close and personal’ look at Okinawa. They’re opening family homes to visitors in a bed-and-breakfast style operation, introducing guests to traditional Okinawa family life.

Okinawa’s future is bright, a professor says. “It is only a matter of time before all Okinawa areas change to being a resort area. Okinawa is the best tourism business area of the future.”

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