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Shanghai flights to increase as prefecture pitches promotion

Date Posted: 2005-09-17

Twice weekly direct flights between Naha and Shanghai, China are about to increase.

A strong marketing campaign spearheaded by Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine this summer has led to an airline decision to up the number to five flights weekly, starting October 1.

Flights between Okinawa and Shanghai began in 2000, with twice weekly round trips. That number went to seven times a week in 2003, when China Air Lines joined China East Airline in providing service. A lack of customers on the route forced a reduction a year ago, back to twice weekly, triggering an Okinawa Prefecture move to aggressively market the island to tourists.

Governor Inamine visited Shanghai in June, and asked China Air Lines for support. The airline’s vice president, Ban Myobu, pledged that “sure we would like to increase the number of flights.” China Air Line has already filed the paperwork for the new flights with the Japan Ministry of Land and Transport.

Okinawa, in the wake of Inamine’s Shanghai visit, opened a Prefecture office in the Chinese city, and began taking steps to involve both Okinawan and Chinese groups.

Already, the prefecture’s arranged the first ever Shougi Game between students from Shanghai and Okinawa. Forty-three youngsters visited Okinawa from Shanghai for the event, which included Eisa dance and folk songs. The response was strong, and the Chinese kids said they want to return next year.

There are also plans in the works for Okinawan children to visit Shanghai on the friendship exchange program. Inamine says he’s sure the promotion will bring tourists from China to Okinawa.

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