Home＞Activities Result Summary
Okinawa's tourism in FY2008 was strong in the first half of the year but was affected in November during the latter half of the year by the worldwide recession triggered by the financial crisis in the U.S. Japan also experienced its own serious economic slowdown known as "a financial crisis that only comes once a hundred years" and due to strong yen and depreciation of the won as well, the demand and mindset for visiting Okinawa slowed down overall and Okinawa's tourism industry struggled. However, while tourism nationwide is in slump, tourism in Okinawa has seen the greatest increase in the number of visitors as a result of efforts where the public sector and private sector such as the country, Okinawa prefectural government, tourism/resort related industry united as one.
One element that supported this progress was the steady "popularity of Okinawa" as a destination for school excursions and general domestic visitors as well as the increase in foreign visitors in the first half of the fiscal year. A second element was the deployment of an effective and energetic visitor campaign to a wide range of new markets. The campaign includes the implementation of various tourism promotion projects beginning with visitor promotion projects based on the "FY2008 Visit Okinawa Plan" with the aim of 10 million visitors (one million foreign visitors out of 10 million visitors) which is a policy challenge of the governor of Okinawa, etc. The third element was the large push received by the advantageous conditions for Okinawa. First of all, visitors heading overseas changed their plans for Okinawa instead because of the sudden rise of fuel surcharges in the first half of the fiscal year. In addition, the number of seats provided by airline companies increased and new domestic routes (Nagoya - Ishigaki, Fukuoka - Naha) were established thereby increasing the number of flights to Okinawa. Moreover, the number of regular flights from Korea increased and regular flights were launched with the establishment of a new route from Hong Kong. Therefore, Okinawa's air transportation capacity was enhanced, and the number of visitors arriving by sea increased further with the earlier departure of cruise ships from Taiwan. As a fourth element, positive factors such as an increase of new accommodation facilities including hotels in Okinawa, a favorable increase of resort weddings and various types of sports conventions starting with professional baseball training camps worked out well. All in all, the number of visitors to Okinawa marked a record-high 5.93 million people (0.7% increase compared to the previous year). In particular, the number of foreign visitors marked an all-time high of 237,000 visitors which is a 25.5% (48,200 visitors) increase compared to the previous year.
Thus, the tourism and resort related industry of Okinawa plays the role of an integrated industry which strongly supports the economic recovery of the prefecture and contributes to the growth and development of the prefectural economy. For this reason, it is extremely necessary for the tourism and resort industry of Okinawa to continue driving the greater overall prefectural economy, and the establishment of an unshakable infrastructure for sustainable growth and securing stable development is becoming more important for the independence of Okinawa's economy. In this context, the Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working on securing and promoting "reliability/safety/comfort" in sightseeing areas and facilities as well as establishing and enhancing a visitor reception system for developing human resources in tourism, etc. to achieve the "formation of high quality year-round tourism and area for resort visits" that can appropriately respond to the travel market and precisely meet the diversified needs of visitors. At the same time, OCVB has been enhancing the image of tourism and resorts in Okinawa and arousing travel demand by deploying strategic visitor attraction campaigns, etc. both inside and outside of the country as well as supporting MICE events, disseminating tourism information, and managing offices outside the prefecture and country.
Specific activity examples are as follows:
Visitor PR Activities were implemented to attract school excursions and repeat visitors as part of measures to even out the visitors to Okinawa. Together with key measures from the "FY2008 Visit Okinawa Plan" of (1) promotions to attract foreign visitors, (2) promotions to attract MICE, (3) resort wedding promotions etc., a remote islands tourism revitalization project was implemented. Moreover, the "Okinawa Tourism Event Promotion for the Spring Season" utilizing the media as an emergency economic measure in tourism was deployed at the end of the fiscal year in Japan and east Asian countries and proactive activities to attract visitors were worked on.
In particular, for school excursion measures, a declining tendency can be seen in school excursions to Okinawa due to the decrease in the number of children and maximum set amounts of travel expenses, and development of the Shinkansen bullet train network, etc. As for countermeasures against these negative factors, information was disseminated using various types of media, "information sessions on school excursions to Okinawa" were held in metropolitan areas and major cities, and "training on educational trips to Okinawa" as an invitational project for persons in charge of school excursions were implemented. Furthermore, as the initial approach, OCVB held "information sessions on barrier-free school excursions to Okinawa" in collaboration with NPO organizations, etc. in metropolitan areas and worked on the creation of school excursion program which can meet various needs.
Next, aiming for a further leap of resort weddings, "Consultation Fairs" and "symposiums to develop thank you gifts for weddings" were held in metropolitan areas in collaboration with the "Okinawa Resort Wedding Report Association". As a result, 9,001 couples were recorded exceeding the FY2008 target of 8,100 couples and strong growth was displayed.
In addition, in collaboration with the "Visit Japan Campaign (VJC)", promotions to attract visitors continued to be deployed in focused areas such as Taiwan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong where there are direct flights to and from Okinawa, and this promotion led to the attraction of tours. In particular, top personnel from the prefecture and OCVB jointly attended the "Okinawa Tourism Seminar in Seoul" for the South Korean market while top personnel from OCVB attended the meeting with airline companies, travel companies, etc. for sales in the Hong Kong Market. To attract cruise ships, OCVB aimed to attract visitors with the "Fly and Cruise" promotion from the Europe market in addition to various countries in Asia and sales activities were implemented for major cruise ship companies. OCVB also participated in business conventions. Finally, based on the fact that attention to "Okinawa tourism" improved recently in the Europe and U.S. markets, OCVB set themes in collaboration with Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) such as diving, longevity, and karate, etc. and participated in business conventions/exhibitions and implemented inspection invitations to travel companies and the mass media.
OCVB supported 33 international conventions and 73 domestic conventions, etc. as part of convention promotion activities to attract MICE events, which have a large ripple effect on the regional economy, in collaboration with the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), major convention promotion organizations such as the Japan Congress Convention Bureau (JCCB), International Convention Attraction Group of Okinawa Prefecture Tokyo Office, four international convention tourism cities within Okinawa, and convention related companies/groups, etc. within the prefecture. Examples include "The 15th International Symposium on Carotenoids" with 30 countries participating and the "International Conference on Electrical Engineering" with 23 countries participating. Details of the welcome support provided are welcome ceremonies at the airport, dispatching performing artists at receptions, provision of congress bags and attendance of Miss Okinawa at ceremonies.
In addition, projects to invite key persons to attract international conferences and conventions, and "MICE attraction seminars" were held in Tokyo and Osaka to proactively provide incentives to companies. At the same time, the dissemination of related information and PR activities were deployed both inside and outside of the country using various types of media. Next, in the sports field, support was provided for visits by 9 major Japanese baseball teams and 6 second tier minor teams along with 3 Korean professional baseball teams. In addition, support for 2 professional soccer team training camps was implemented along with support for various training camps for university and company sports teams. Together with this support, an "Okinawa Sports Convention Facility Guide" was created to promote visits and information on each facility was provided. In addition, OCVB also proactively approached sports organizations and groups, etc. Furthermore, OCVB established an administration office with the announcement to hold "The 77th Japan Open Golf Championship" which is positioned as a 40th anniversary project celebrating the return of Okinawa to mainland Japan in Okinawa on October 2012.
These activities are part of the approach aiming for the formation of a "Convention Sports Island Okinawa".
For reception activities, beginning with the management of Naha Airport Visitor Information Centers, "Mensore Okinawa tourism public awareness campaign" for improving the awareness of tourism by Okinawan citizens and enlightening citizens about the creation of tourist spots overflowing with hospitality was proactively promoted. Clean-up activities throughout the entire prefecture, etc. were held in collaboration with cities, towns, villages and local tourism associations. These clean-up activities contributed to enlightening citizens to the beautification of tourist areas and the local environment and promoted the creation of a healthy environment.
For measures to develop/secure human resources in tourism, semi-order style training on "hospitality historical/cultural training" and "next generation leader training" using Okinawa prefectural industry promotion funds, and the "Tour guide taxi driver qualification certification/registration system" were continuously implemented as a part of projects by "Tourism Industry Human Resources Development Center". Moreover, "Region Limited Interpreter-Guide Examination Seminars" and "Volunteer Interpreter Seminars" were implemented for securing and developing human resources in the interpreter guide industry. A "Workbook (for children and teachers)" and "Okinawa tourism learning materials (3rd edition)" were published as part of dissemination/enlightenment of tourism. These publications led to the promotion of tourism education for elementary school students within Okinawa and deepened the understanding of tourism in Okinawa and hometowns in Okinawa among lower grades at elementary schools. Consequently, the "Uchina Tourism Textbook (revised edition)" was continuously published and positioned as a designated book for the qualification certification system and the interpreter-guide examination as well as for improving the tourism awareness level of tourism related industry workers.
What’s more, OCVB proactively supported the smooth operation of the "Handicapped/Senior Visitor Information Center (management subject: Barrier Free Network Kaigi)" within the Naha Airport Visitor Information Center for domestic flights as part of the approach targeting barrier-free tourism to aid smooth management of the center.OCVB also published the "Okinawa Festival Guidebook", responded in various ways to decrease the burden of visitors, etc. forced to stay at Naha Airport, etc. due to typhoon, established an information provision system on typhoons and accommodation, and assisted with various types of events organized by local regions and tourism related groups and provided support which contributes to attracting visitors, etc.
In film commission promotion, in order for Okinawa to continue to be selected in domestic and overseas movies, TV dramas, and TV commercials which are very effective PR for Okinawa, promotions and proactive support to attract film productions were implemented. In FY2008, effective reception support for domestic and overseas film crews was conducted in close collaboration with the "Japan Film Commission Promotion Council", PR advertising companies and related organizations within Okinawa. Support was provided for film crews in 53 domestic and international projects.
Additionally, as an initial approach, OCVB worked on establishing a reception structure from the viewpoint of deepening collaboration with cities, towns, villages, etc. and held a "Film Office Study Session" on Miyakojima Island. Moreover, together with promoting the establishment of support organizations in municipal governments in Okinawa, 316 locations were selected as location candidates in Okinawa. Organizing Okinawa location supporters was also conducted and 453 people have been registered at present.Furthermore, aiming for a departure from the film commission which is limited to current support activities, OCVB participated in domestic and overseas movie festivals as part of searching for a new direction of shifting the current film industry to business (contents) industry in the future. In particular, OCVB screened "Ryujin Mabuyer", a film created in Okinawa, and 3 other films at the "Hong Kong Filmart", an international film market, and pursued various business opportunities.
Next, OCVB held the "Okinawa International Movie Festival", a first in Okinawa in collaboration with local artists, cities, towns and villages, and related organizations. The number of festival-goers reached over 110,000 and the festival successfully ended. OCVB is certain this success created some new bright prospects of Okinawa film commission activities.Finally, OCVB proactively worked on securing independent revenue sources for film commission activities and worked on establishing and enhancing/strengthening the infrastructure for activities such as websites/banner advertising, paid registration of location related companies (57 companies).
In tourism information center management, through the management of "mahae plus", dissemination of the "Churashima" Okinawa tourism information book, and the "mahae press" tourism information magazine which is published every other month, OCVB disseminates information on the latest tourism resources filled with the allure of Okinawa and timely tourism information to visitors and travel agents, etc. In addition, as a measure to secure independent revenue, we continued to work on paid banner advertisement and endeavored to strengthen/enhance the activity infrastructure.
・Number of visits to mahae plus -> 25.86 million page views (5% increase compared to the previous fiscal year)
・mahae plus revenue from pay banner advertising ->4.75 million yen (58% increase compared to the previous fiscal year)
Next, in order to upgrade websites on Okinawa tourism, OCVB launched Hangul and Chinese (simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese) websites. In addition, an "OKINAWA INBOUND NET " for the travel/tourism industry was also established and a function to act as a general portal site for Okinawan tourism was added.
In the profit earning project, OCVB was entrusted with management of Okinawa Convention Center, park area around the Former Japanese Navy Headquarters Office, from the prefecture of Okinawa. To manage these facilities, in collaboration with internal and external related organizations and groups, OCVB strengthened the sales structure further compared to the past and worked on increasing the facility operation rate.
In particular, for management of the Okinawa Convention Center, due to the recognition that these facilities are core facilities to attract MICE events which is priority measure of the prefecture, OCVB worked on business development in close collaboration with the country and the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), etc. OCVB believes the results will contribute to the development/growth of the tourism/convention industry in Okinawa. In addition, to promote utilization of the "Former Japanese Navy Headquarters" and "Busena Underwater Park" which are directly operated by OCVB, OCVB promoted a proactive approach to improve profit and contributed to strengthening the financial infrastructure of public services together with working on tie-ups with related organizations such as travel agents.