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Rosy projections offered for 2009 Okinawa tourism

Date Posted: 2009-03-06

The economic recession is impacting many people in many places, but nobodyís expecting it to hurt Okinawa tourism.

Tourism this year is instead being forecast to be a hot button topic, with an overall 4.5% increase in visitors to Japanís southernmost prefecture. A total of 6,400,000 tourists are expected to visit Okinawa this year, up from 4,020,000 a year ago. Each tourist, Okinawa Prefectureís Tourism Chamber of Commerce and Industry Section predicts will spend •77,000 during their stay.

The Prefectureís tourism specialists are anticipating a 23% increase in the number of foreign visitors making their way to Okinawa, up 60,000 from 2007ís 240,000 to 300,000 this year. A key factor in international tourism growth is the new promotions reaching out to America and European countries. Previous marketing and promotion concentrated on Asian countries. Overseas tourist numbers had dipped 6.7% in January.

Overall tourism numbers to Okinawa the past quarter have declined due to the recession. Many Korean tourists, who have seen their countryís won currency drop drastically over the past seven months, are staying home because itís too expensive to travel overseas.

The Prefectureís tourism focus is on getting more foreign tourists invited to Okinawa, Inviting the MICE, promoting the resort wedding plan, and applying experience learned from the past to attract visitors to stay in Okinawa longer. The government has pledged to use the Okinawa Tourism Invitation Special Measure more fully during the April ~ June term, drumming up more business.

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