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Business hotel chains eye Okinawan market

Date Posted: 2002-08-23

At least two business hotel chain operators are eyeing Okinawa as a potentially lucrative new market. Both target areas near stations of the new Okinawa Monorail scheduled to go into operation in Dec. 2003.

Both chains target business travelers as their main customers, and that’s the reason they locate their hotels within easy access to transportation. The hotels offer no-frills rooms at ¥5,000 to ¥6,000 per night range.

An operator of 60 hotels throughout the nation opened the first of their planned Okinawa hotels, called Naha Inn, in 2000 next to the still-under-construction Asahimachi Station on the Okinawa Monorail. The second opened in June next to Naha Bus Terminal.

Another chain operating 50 hotels nationwide recently opened a hotel in front of Miebashi Station, and s currently constructing its second hotel near Izumizaki Intersection. That hotel is scheduled to open two months before the completion of the monorail.

The new chains worry some local hotel operators who fear that they will eat away at their markets. “We do this market best as we have operated here a long time,” one local hotel manager who declined to be identified says. “They target only business people, but I doubt whether there are enough. As we accommodate tourists, families and student groups, we have to be much more versatile, and that is our strength,” he stated.

The monorail is also sparking other plans for urban development, including tall apartment condos, shopping malls and other facilities, all to be located in the vicinity of the line. And that pleases the planners at the monorail company, Naha City and the prefecture. “It’s good to have competition. We need unique ideas to revitalize Naha City central areas,” an official at Naha City Urban planning Section said.

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