Island getaway – Routes Asia 201718 July 2016
For the first time in its 15-year history, Routes Asia will be held in Japan when the development forum heads to the Okinawa Convention Centre, 19–22 March 2017.
Routes Asia is the only air service development forum for the Asian region, bringing together leading airlines and airports, and their stakeholders to discuss new flight paths since 2003. The 2017 event will be hosted by Okinawa Prefecture, and supported by Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Okinawa is one of the most popular leisure destinations in Japan – more than seven million tourists journey there every year to enjoy the island’s subtropical climate, tranquil beaches, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and unique culture.
Okinawa Prefectural Government Governor Takeshi Onaga explains: “Okinawa is a destination on the rise. The prefecture forms the southernmost islands of Japan, which attract the world’s travellers. We have the ruins of Shuri Castle, crystal-clear oceans, beautiful beaches and coral reefs. Gorgeous dance performances and the finest Okinawan cuisine will definitely meet the expectations of Routes Asia delegates, and we are looking forward to meeting them in 2017.”
Investment in local infrastructure means that Okinawa’s tourism industry will continue to grow. The regional Ishigaki Airport was replaced by New Ishigaki Airport in 2013 to provide a longer runway for larger aircraft. Naha Airport is carrying out terminal expansion works as part of its aim to become a gateway between mainland Asia and Japan, and a second runway will be in operation by 2020.
Routes Asia will enable Okinawa to capitalise on the rapid growth predicted for the Asia-Pacific aviation market over the next two decades. IATA figures forecast that passenger numbers in the region will have overtaken North America’s and Europe’s by the end of the next decade, and nearly half of all air travel will involve the region by 2034 – a total of 2.9 billion journeys.
Expectations for the first Japanese Routes Asia are high. This year’s event in Manila in the Philippines drew over 900 delegates from 110 airlines and 220 airports and destinations across Asia, and the organisers hope to achieve even higher registration numbers in 2017.
Flight times between Okinawa and most east-Asian cities are under four hours, making it relatively easy to travel to. Direct flights are available from Beijing, Tokyo, Osaka, Taipei, Hong Kong, Seoul and Shanghai.
Neil Mulligan, senior future host manager at Routes, says: “As the first Routes Asia to be held in Japan, Okinawa will bring Routes to a new, and growing, market. Okinawa is a beautiful destination, and the expansion of its airports means that there is plenty of scope for new air services.”
Akimitsu Miyazato, senior specialist at Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau, adds: “It is our honour to host Routes Asia 2017. I hope a lot of delegates will join us for the event, and enjoy our nature, culture and people – there is a lot to see in Okinawa.” ?
More information about Routes Asia can be found at www.routesonline.com.