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Japan’s Okinawa takes on Bali and Phuket

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by Bill Barnett

While Okinawa is often called the Hawaii of Japan, a changing Asian travelscape driven by low-cost airline carriers is seeing the resort destination attract a rising number of regional tourists. Last year, arrivals hit 9.84 million which is now elevating the market to the likes Asia’s twin resort icons, Bali and Phuket.

Summing up the current shift in trends is C9 Hotelworks new Okinawa Hotel Market Review with key catalysts of change being rising airlift, visa exemptions for a number of Asian countries including Thailand and favorable currency exchange rates to the Japanese yen.

International airlift is delivering more and more overseas travellers, in 2018 domestic routes supplied 71% of the visitors to the destination. Good news this year is that traction has remained strong as year-to-date arrivals through May registered 4.6% growth. Key overseas markets are South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China and the US.

Market-wide occupancy for hotels in the latest available data was 64% with an average accommodation spend per person, per day registered at approximately USD218. With over 36,000 hotel and ryokan keys, the current pipeline is showing 5,295 keys under development.

Key incoming brands reflect more global brands including Hilton and Four Seasons. The latter is being developed by Malaysia’s Berjaya Group, fresh from an extremely successful project in Kyoto. Berjaya is again set to leverage the Four Seasons brand on a hotel residence component of the project.

Despite high development costs given pressure from the upcoming run up to the Olympics, Okinawa’s resort trajectory remains strongly positive given the current expansion at Naha Airport. With low interest rates in a stable marketplace, developers are increasingly looking to the both Okinawa and the outer islands with rising interest, as the destination is poised to play on a broader global stage.

To read the C9 Hotelworks Okinawa Hotel Market Review CLICK.

 

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Bill Barnett has over 30 years of experience in the Asian hospitality and property markets. He is considered to be a leading authority on real estate trends across Asia, and has sat at almost every seat around the hospitality and real estate table. Bill promotes industry insight through regular conference speaking engagements and is continually gathering market intelligence. Over the past few years he has released four books on Asian property topics.

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