TOURISM BOOST TO OKINAWA EXPECTED ON NEW AIRLINE ROUTES SAYS JTB MALAYSIA
JTB Malaysia expects a boost of tourism to the island of Okinawa in 2017 in light of new air routes from Taipei to Naha airport. Beginning January 2017, China Airlines will be offering flights to Naha with only a 4 hour layover instead of overnight flights.
“Prior to this development, the only way to travel to Okinawa was via Tokyo or Osaka but thanks to China Airlines’ new routes, tourists will be able to travel to Okinawa from Taipei without an overnight layover” explained JTB Malaysia outbound division senior manager, Shen Nordin.
Shen believes this development would help spur traffic from Malaysia to Okinawa driven primarily by free independent travellers (FIT), event launches and company trips.
“Okinawa offers something unique compared to other parts of Japan due to its dual heritage (of Japan and China). I believe that this would appeal to Southeast Asian travellers due to our shared multicultural heritage,” Shen added.
Historically, Okinawa was known as the “Ryukyu Kingdom” and was deeply involved in maritime trade with Southeast Asian countries like Siam and Malacca in the 14th century. Okinawa is home to the Churaumi Aquarium which is one of the world’s largest aquariums and Shuri Castle, the seat of power of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
According to statistics from Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), visitors to Japan from Malaysia in Oct 2016 grew by 28.8% to 36,700 people from 28,488 a year ago.