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Finally: Okinawan business looks heading upwards

Date Posted: 2003-12-11

Happy days appear to be here again. Okinawan business has been in the doldrums for so long that most people seem to have forgotten what an economic upturn looks like. It seems now that good news is finally here. A report compiled by the Okinawa Prefecture General Bureau Financial Section shows that all indicators for the past three months show business has been expanding, and will most likely continue to do so.

The bureau’s figures show that the seasonally adjusted business index (BSI) has gone up 8.1 points over the past three months and is expected to go up another 1.4 points this month. The first quarter of next year also looks good. Director Masayuki Sakamoto at the General Bureau sees many reasons for the positive development. “First of all, tourism to the prefecture has see a strong increase. Another factor is that the mainland economy is also showing improvement and that reflects to Okinawa,” Sakamoto says.

The number of tourists visiting the prefecture is widely expected to top five million for the first time ever. Officials at Japan Transocean Airlines that flies routes between Okinawan islands and to several destinations on the mainland say that their passenger count is up 10.1 percent overall compared to last year. “Since we opened direct routes between smaller islands and destinations in mainland, the number of visitors to those islands has jumped 30 percent from last year,” a JTA spokesman said. Officials at the Prefecture Visitors’ Bureau say that the number of visitors has set a new record every month since April. According to the report, construction is the only area down compared to last year. The food service sector jumped 11.1 points.

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