Home' micenet eMag : micenet AUSTRALIA December 2014 January 2015 Contents Much like the weather, the peace-loving Okinawans are a
famously warm people, welcoming visitors with the
saying “Shurei no kokoro” – embrace all and treat them
with the utmost courtesy. These words of wisdom are also true of
the Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB), who
recently welcomed more than 150 domestic and international
buyers to Japan’s southernmost prefecture as part of its annual
Okinawa MICE Project.
For seven years the project, a combined effort of the OCVB and
the prefecture of Okinawa, has invited buyers to explore Okinawa’s
chain of 160 subtropical islands.
Affectionately regarded as the Hawaii of Japan, Okinawa
Prefecture stretches across the Pacific Ocean and East China
Sea, from Kagoshima Prefecture to within 100km of Taiwan. It’s
the heart of the main archipelago of Japan and with direct flights
from Taipei, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong to the capital
Naha, and daily domestic flights from Tokyo, Okinawa is fast
becoming the gateway of East Asia.
It’s this ease of access, together with its extensive resort and
meeting facilities, that’s contributed to Okinawa’s growing
popularity as a MICE destination. But what’s really turning the
heads of international meeting and incentive planners is Okinawa’s
unique and colourful culture, which has been passed down
through the island’s extraordinary history as part of the Ryukyu
Kingdom - an economic powerhouse that reigned for more than
“Everything here is a little different to the mainland,” OCVB
chairman, Yoshiyuki Uehara, says.
“We have a unique history, culture and natural environment –
that’s what makes Okinawa so attractive.”
Mr Uehara says Okinawa’s reputation as a leading MICE
destination was confirmed back in 2000 when it hosted the
Kyushu-Okinawa G8 summit.
“The G8 was a really important win for Okinawa because of the
international attraction it drew.”
Since then Okinawa’s hosted high-profile international meetings
including the 2010 APEC Telecommunications and Information
Ministerial Meeting, the 28th International Symposium on Space
Technology and Science (ISTS) in 2011, and the Sixth Pacific
Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM 6) in 2012.
“We’re very proud of our meeting facilities. We have many
resorts, like the new Hilton Okinawa Chatan Resort, which opened
in July this year; the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, which is a
popular MICE venue; and the Okinawa Convention Centre.”
Incentive programs are big business too.
“Our advantage over our neighbours is our natural post-meeting
appeal,” Mr Uehara says.
“We have natural attractions like beaches and limestone caves,
family-friendly resorts, and parks that celebrate our history and
traditional art forms.”
This proud history was on display throughout this year’s Okinawa
MICE Project and was celebrated throughout the Okinawa MICE
Night welcome function. Held on the grounds of the iconic Shurijo
Castle, once the heart of the Ryukyu Kingdom, the evening
welcomed delegates with local fare like goya champuru (bitter
melon and tofu) and Okinawan soba, traditional Eisa drum dance
performances (see p.31), and the art form of coral dyeing, only
available in Okinawa. Delegates also got the chance to try their
hand at the sanshin (Okinawan guitar) and sanba (Okinawan
castanets), traditional instruments preserved from the Ryukyu era.
The Okinawa Convention Centre hosted a trade event the
following day, introducing buyers from Greater China, Singapore,
Europe and the US to the meeting facilities, team-building
activities and myriad hotels scattered across Okinawa. There are
two dedicated convention facilities available: the Okinawa
Convention Centre, the largest facility with capacity for 5000
(exhibition) and 1709 in its theatre complex; and Bankoku
Shinryokan, the resort complex that hosted the G8 Summit.
Unique meeting venues can also be found in the Okinawa
Churaumi Aquarium, Ishigaki Yaima Village (on Ishigaki island, 50
Shisa... lion-dog statues unique to
Okinawa that protect against evil.
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