50 Years On: Okinawa Tourism Shifts from Memorial Voyages to Resort Trips


Naha, Okinawa Pref., April 16 (Jiji Press)--The core of tourism in Okinawa Prefecture has shifted from tours for mourning the war dead to resort trips over the five decades since its 1972 return to Japan.

The number of tourists to Okinawa topped 10 million in 2019, sharply up from some 200,000 in 1971, a year before the end of the 27-year U.S. occupation of the prefecture.

Tourism has become a key driver of Okinawa's growth, but it was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prefectural officials and local business leaders are seeking ways to put the Okinawa economy on a recovery track.

In several years since 1960 when around 20,000 people came to Okinawa a year, the prefecture had its largest number of travelers every November, for participation into memorial services for those who died in World War II.

Fierce ground battles took place in Okinawa in the final phase of the war. People say tourism in Okinawa grew out of trips to pay tribute to the deceased.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press