TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Tourism in East Asia is booming, and Okinawa is making serious progress towards becoming a top tourist destination in the region.
In 2017, for the first time ever, tourists visiting Okinawa have surpassed the number of tourists visiting Hawaii of the United States.
The Asahi Shimbun reports that 9.396 million tourists were recorded visiting the Japanese prefecture, beating out Hawaii’s 2017 numbers of 9.382 million by a slim margin.
Year-to-year monthly increases in tourism to Okinawa also increased from 2016 to 2017, with August 2017 being the first month to top 1 million visitors, and the highest month of tourism on record for the prefecture.
According to the report, Okinawa set a target to reach more than 10 million visitors in a single fiscal year by 2020. However, after last year’s success, Okinawa now anticipates reaching the 10 million visitor goal by the end of 2018.
The local government is planning to expand cruise tourism and accessibility to smaller islands throughout the prefecture, marketing itself as a “Caribbean of the East.” The measures are expected to significantly increase visitors in the years ahead.
Various cruise lines are already planning routes between Taiwanese ports and Okinawan islands.
The Asahi Shimbun reports about 810,000 Taiwanese tourists visited Okinawa in 2017. With cruise lines planning to offer several new routes between Keelung Harbor and various islands throughout the prefecture, those numbers will likely increase over the coming year.
With any luck, a regular ferry service between Keelung and nearby Ishigaki Island will also be reestablished in the near future.