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New life flowing into Kokusai Dori

Date Posted: 2006-06-30

Ryubo Department Store Group has joined the band of businesses pledging new construction to revitalize the downtown Kokusai International Street.

Ryubo says it’s going to build a new hotel on its land currently occupied by Best Denki store. The new business hotel is slated to open in Summer 2008. The company president says the hotel will cater to tourists, but “I want restaurants and boutiques to be an Okinawan peoples’ operation, and not run by outsiders.” He says the Ryubo Department Store located nearby at Palette Kumoji hopes to attract more customers for dinner or shopping too.

The new Yamakataya Department Store area will be transforming to a hotel district, as a new hotel operated by Japan Air Line Group opened for business last week. Kokuba Group is jumping in too, announcing plans for a new movie theater.

Kokusai Street had been sinking into the doldrums, with tourists abandoning the traditional international shopping area for outlying Naha areas, patronizing giant JUSCO stores and Naha Main Place in Omoromachi. Tourists are still visiting, but in fewer numbers, and spending fewer dollars.

Shop owners have had to scale back prices, thus reducing profits. Now, Naha City is actively promitng Kokusai. Ryubo Industry has several business hotels in the downtown area at Matsuyama, but now Kokusai’s new hotel will be more upscale. The larger-than-normal size rooms will run Y8,000-10,000 per night.

Some businesses are still in a watch-and-see mode, but most shop owners agree the large industry commitments to Kokusai Street are a positive move for the downtown Naha area.

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