Okinawa – Growing Passenger Transport Hub for Japan and Asia

Okinawa has become a top tourist destination not only in Japan but throughout Asia and is also the hub of airline travel for Japan and Asia. By using Okinawa as a hub, European tourists can readily access cities across Japan.

With this in mind, last year Okinawa Prefecture started the “Okinawa International Airport Passenger Hub Creation Project”, promoting Okinawa as a gateway hub connecting Japan, Asia, and the world. This spring, together with ANA and Lufthansa, a solid travel product line-up is being put together aimed at offering European travellers a new way to enjoy Asia.

Situated in the middle of the East China Sea, Okinawa, with its 150 islands, has been a traditional trading centre since historical times, connecting sea routes between Japan, China, and other Asian areas and connecting airways still today. But the Japanese prefecture offers a natural paradise with crystal-clear water, deep forests, and dedicated people and is, therefore, an excellent base for tourist attractions marketed under the brand “Be. Okinawa.” It is not for nothing that Okinawa came in first place on TripAdvisor’s Top Destinations on the Rise 2018.

Managers from the prefecture and ANA airlines have taken on the task of combining their function as an air transport hub with the potential for tourism. At ITB Berlin 2018, they thus presented special airfares and three travel scenarios that make the long-haul destination particularly attractive from places like Germany: Japan Triple Destination combines a tour of Tokyo, Sapporo, and Okinawa. Asia Triple Cities joins Tokyo and Okinawa, only two and a half hours from one another by plane, with the South Korean capital Seoul, or makes it possible to tour Hong Kong and Shanghai with a stop in Okinawa. And for Gateway to Asia, Okinawa essentially acts as a springboard to Seoul and Taiwan. An additional runway is planned in Naha Airport by 2020 after a new terminal was already added in 2014 – both provide extra capacity.