Okinawa looks to offer more unique venues

THE MICE bureau of Okinawa, Japan has set in motion plans to grow the destination’s pool of unique venues for business events, following its success last year in getting the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium to open its famous Kuroshio Sea gallery for private functions.

Speaking to TTGmice e-Weekly during the Okinawa MICE Project familiarisation tour and trade show earlier this week, Sen Tamaki, manager, overseas marketing section of Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau (OCVB), said: “Shurijo Castle Park is next on our wish list.”

Shurijo Castle Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, houses the restored palace of the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom and other key architecture. In 2000 it hosted a dinner reception in the courtyard in front of Seiden, the main castle building, for country leaders attending the Kyushu-Okinawa G8 Summit.

“Shurijo Castle Park has always been off-limits to private events but we (OCVB) are pushing for it to be open to private and business events. It would make such an impactful venue,” said Tamaki.

“I believe we are making good progress because later this month a reception for the delegates of a scientific convention will be held in the park. Although the reception will not be within the castle and will take place in one of the many open spaces in the park, we must recognise that it will be the first-ever private event to be held there,” he added.

Tamaki is also keen to add some of the facilities within the American military bases to Okinawa’s menu of unique venues. Some 20 per cent of the land is used by the American military.

He said: “These bases have huge venues such as sports halls and auditoriums. These spaces are perfect for MICE, and will allow us to court large-scale events. We have started talking to the authorities but I must admit this will not be easy to achieve. Security will be the biggest obstacle because a large-scale MICE event will have attendees from all over the world, and some may come from countries that have particularly sensitive political relations with the US.”

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