The Visit Okinawa Plan is an annual action program that seeks to bring ten million visitors to Okinawa each year. Within that target is the goal of achieving 450,000 foreign guests. In working to achieve that aim, we are ramping up promotional activities aimed at overseas tourists, MICE visitors, and cruise guests. At the same time, our Overseas Project Department is working closely with the local tourist industry to build a unified welcoming framework that will ensure an even more satisfying and enjoyable experience for our foreign guests.
The Overseas Promotion Team is committed to making Okinawa an even more international destination. Having identified Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and Korea as our four most critical overseas tourism markets, we are working to get more direct flights linking these regions to Okinawa. We have established carrier agents in each area, and are working closely with them to develop highly effective tie-up campaigns. Meanwhile, we are taking advantage of multiple media platforms to communicate information, holding travel expos to build business-to-customer awareness, promoting on-location filming for TV series and movies—all with the aim of building recognition for the Okinawa name. We are also working with the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) to strengthen marketing activities and promotions aimed at emerging markets for the future.
Following the open skies agreement signed between Japan and Taiwan in November of 2011, Taiwan and Okinawa began increasing the air service routes between the two regions in an effort to increase the number of available airline seats. In addition to developing a series of new, value-added travel products aimed at a variety of travelers (independent sightseers, remote island hoppers, destination wedding participants, and more), we are also looking to deliver a boost to activities that support international exchange—such as marathons and auto races.
Our activities in China have focused on building name recognition in Shanghai and Beijing, the two cities offering direct service between Okinawa and China. In parts of China were direct flights are not available, we have been pushing the promotion of charter services and expanded our efforts to attract tourists in China’s major cities. We also took advantage of Japan’s decision to begin offering multiple-entry visas to Chinese tourists in July 2011 with redoubled efforts to attract independent sightseers to Okinawa.
・Exploring new markets
We have been ramping up promotions to attract visitors from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and other East Asian countries, who can reach Okinawa via Taipei or Hong Kong. We have also been setting up travel products that incorporate chartered flights from these areas. We are also planning to launch new marketing efforts in the world’s two largest travel markets—North America and Europe—as well as in emerging economic giants like Russia and India.
In order to establish Okinawa as a favorite travel designation among the people of Hong Kong, our Overseas Promotion Team is focusing on putting out a steady stream of information using a variety of media platforms. We are also taking advantage of the direct flights available between Hong Kong and Naha with stronger efforts to attract tourists from neighboring Guangdong Province in China.
Seoul is Korea’s biggest market, and we are working to increase the number of direct flights between the capital city and Okinawa as well as encourage charter flights and other tourist activities linking us to the second-largest market of Busan so that more seats are available on more routes. At the same time, we are hosting a variety of athletic activities in Okinawa, including golf tours and training camps for professional Korean baseball teams, in an effort to further enhance Okinawa’s reputation as an ideal location for sports conventions.
Cruises are an extremely important part of international tourism to Okinawa. In order to encourage more ships to make Okinawa a port of call, we are aiming our sales activities at the world’s major cruise lines, participating in business meetings, and hosting inspection tours for key players in the industry. We are also working more closely with the local governments that own and operate Okinawa’s ports in an effort to set up more facilities capable of handling cruise ship tourism.
We are working with the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), Japan Congress Convention Bureau (JCCB), International Convention Attraction Group of Okinawa Prefecture Tokyo Office, four international convention tourism cities within Okinawa (Naha, Urasoe, Ginowan, and Okinawa City), and other convention-related groups, companies, and organizations in an effort to build a collaborative framework that supports and encourages MICE tourism throughout Okinawa. More specifically, this means finding ways to effectively meet the needs of attendees with a thorough and smooth-functioning array of visitor services.
*Meetings, incentives, conventions/conferences, events/exhibitions
In order to firmly establish a name for the Okinawa brand around the world and make overseas visitors’ experiences in Okinawa even more satisfying and enjoyable, the Inbound Strategies Team is working to set up a more comprehensive visitor support framework that includes collaborative efforts with related organizations, professional development programs, and providing information in multiple languages.
Setting up tourist information websites in foreign languages and websites targeting businesses
・Support services for overseas guests and professional development
Support framework for visitors (translation support, Wi-Fi services, preparing welcome tools, etc.), professional training for overseas tourism professionals (basic reception training, seminars to help people pass the region-specific foreign language guide licensing test, etc.)
・Tie-ups with related organizations
Inbound Liaison Conference, setting up medical tourism frameworks, sponsoring symposiums
・Identifying visitor needs
Overseas visitor satisfaction survey