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A majority of visiting tourists love Okinawa

Date Posted: 2007-08-31

Nearly two-thirds of Okinawa's tourists are repeat visitors, and most of them think Okinawa is a great place to vacation.

A new study by the Okinawa Prefecture Commercial and Industrial Section shows 68,4% of those visiting the islands are doing so for a second time, or even more frequently. Most, 59%, think “the view of Okinawa is great”.

All was not rosy in the study, though. Complaints were loudly voiced about foods, hotel services, sports facilities, opportunities for cultural experiences and being unable to find tourist locations. Only 35% of respondents thought Okinawa’s food was good. Likewise, only one-third of those answering the survey thought hotels were good.

Road signs, or lack of them, irritated many. Those signs, as well as tourist destination signs, failed to give adequate directions to find them. Some 21% of tourists surveyed complained about poor manners on the part of Okinawa drivers, and 22% said traffic jams are very bad.

“Okinawa needs to improve the quality of its tourism services menu,” one said, “and must learn how to have more concern about tourists.” Okinawa Prefecture takes the survey every three years, polling airline passengers as they leave Okinawa. An official says 43% of those asked to complete the survey actually responded. He said the Prefecture recognizes the importance of tourist feedback, and will now do the survey every year.

Tourist numbers continued to rise, with 5,700,000 visiting in 2006. Tourism revenues were up a slim 0.6% at ¥408.2 billion. The average tourist spent less last year than before, dipping 1.7% to ¥71,560 during an Okinawa stay. The Prefecture attributed the decline to many hotels selling inexpensive hotel and meal packages.

Souvenir sales dropped, as more tourists turned to shopping at tax and duty free shops, instead of from retail merchants. Restaurant sales climbed 8.1% though, and amusement activities registered a 0.8% increase. A Prefecture official says the spas and esthetic business, as well as resort weddings, were major draws, doubling in number over the past year.

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