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Kokusaiís pedestrian Transit Mall attracts new customers

Date Posted: 2008-05-08

An innovative idea for closing Kokusai Street to traffic every Sunday afternoon to permit pedestrians to wander through the downtown international district has celebrated its first birthday, and organizers say the Transit Mall is a qualified success.
The Association of Shopping Arcade Owners teamed with Naha City to brainstorm the transformation last April, as business was ailing and customers were becoming few and far between. The average number of customers has jumped from 20,000 to 29,000 with introduction of the Transit Mall, attracting both tourists and locals.
Each Sunday, noon to 6 p.m., Kokusai Street is closed to all vehicles except special, slow moving mall buses. Even regular city buses are prohibited from transiting Kokusai, leaving the way open for tourists, shopper, families and street performers.
Rickshaws, tricycles powered by humans, are also on the street to provide transportation. Shop owners say they like the new program, and would be happier if the problem of parking could be solved. They say many tourists have rental cars, but donít know where to park. Store owners say families visiting Kokusai continue to increase, many enjoying the chance to sit and have foods and coffee along the famous street.

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