This Japanese island is set to see more tourists than Hawaii

Aerial view of a beach on the Japanese Island of Okinawa - a little bit of paradise, right on your doorstep. Source: Ryo Yoshitake/Unsplash

SAPPHIRE blue skies, crystal waters, golden sands and a distinctive history have made Okinawa see a surge in tourism over the past years, and it is now looking to have more desirability for Chinese and Korean vacationers than Hawaii.

Okinawa can be found dazzling in the sunshine in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of mainland Japan. It is the largest island of a cluster that forms the Okinawa Prefecture, also known as the Ryukyu Islands.

The Island has seen a 10.5 percent growth in foreign tourism since 2016, with an estimated 8.77 million travelers visiting the island.

For many decades Hawaii stood out as the ultimate paradise island, a once in a lifetime trip and perhaps even the coolest place to snap a selfie, but not anymore.

Although Hawaii will most probably never stop being a desirable destination for travelers, it is almost relieving to hear that other incredible islands are catching up to its reputation.

According to Okinawa prefecture data, the rise in the island’s visitors is almost as high as Hawaii’s intake in 2016, which stands at 8.93 million. This increase in tourism is predicted to surge even higher by 2018, with forecasted figures looking to exceed Hawaii’s tourism rate by the end of this year, according to Miwako Date, the chief executive officer of Japanese developer Mori Trust Co.

The waters are crystal clear off the island of Okinawa but don’t worry, these jellyfish won’t come close to the shore. Source: Daryan Shamkhali / Unsplash

The gush of tourism happening in Okinawa is mainly driven by vacationers from Taiwan, South Korea, and mainland China wanting a little slice of luxury, without having to travel for an exhausting ten hours to get there.

From China and Korea to Okinawa is a measly 2 hour plane journey, and Taiwan to the island is a quick one hour and twenty-five-minute journey by air, coming in at around US$127 – far cheaper than the $750 (minimum) it would cost to get from China to Hawaii. A no-brainer? We think so.

But it isn’t just travelers realizing the potential of Okinawa. Hotel developers such as Hilton, Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt Regency and even Hawaii’s Halekulani are all planning to build on the island.

“I’m extremely positive about the tourism prospects of Okinawa,” Martin Rinck, the Asia-Pacific president for Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., said in a news conference this month.

While developments are still in the pipework to make this island a big player in the world’s most desirable holiday destinations, you should look at booking a trip while hotels are still moderately priced, and it is not overrun by construction.