Okinawa plans new convention venue for more MICE business

OKINAWA is set to increase MICE visitorship with the construction of a major convention venue to accommodate events as large as 10,000 to 20,000 people.

Koji Niimoto, supervisor for MICE marketing section of Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB), told TTGmice e-Weekly that discussions and research are ongoing for a suitable location to build the venue, preferably near to Naha Airport, hotels and key attractions. A final decision is expected in the next year or so.

Currently the largest convention centre in the prefecture is the Okinawa Convention Center, which offers a maximum seating capacity of 5,000 people in its biggest event space at one time.

Said Niimoto: “Okinawa is looking to expand its MICE business from overseas source markets, hence efforts are ongoing to increase capacity in terms of MICE venues.”

Apart from its main source markets Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and South Korea, OCVB is also seeking to lure more traffic from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Europe, he said, adding that at the moment, the convention business is contributed mainly by mainland Japan, while incentive groups hail from overseas.

When asked how Okinawa intends to stand out as an incentive destination against other Asian competitors, he said: “While other destinations also offer beautiful oceans and nature like Okinawa does, we have our own unique culture that is different from that of mainland Japan (due to historical influences).

“In other words, we offer a different type of Japanese culture to the world. To top this off, we are known for our people’s hospitality, which transcends the language barrier.”

Akira Kakazu, manager for OCVB’s MICE marketing section, revealed that a seminar in Singapore for the local media and trade is being planned for July to reach out to more Asian markets.

Meanwhile, Singapore Changi Airport and Okinawa Prefecture last week signed an MoU to enhance direct air connectivity between the two destinations and bring more inbound traffic from Singapore and its nearby destinations.

Currently, only Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and South Korea offer direct flights to Okinawa.

Traffic is also expected to increase with Okinawa’s new Naha Cruise Terminal, which opened this week. About 130,000 cruise arrivals are targeted for the new financial year starting this month, according to OCVB.

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