Okinawa – a tropical paradise, complete with year round sunshine, pristine beaches, perfect pineapples and the cheerfulness of Ryukyun locals just to the southwest of Japan’s main islands.
But not everything is perfect in paradise.

The exotic islands of Okinawa are the home of some of the world's most beautiful and rich coral reefs, so tempting to adventure seekers that a boom in the last few decades has led to a sharp increase in damage to the reefs and marine life of the area.

According to a press release, a survey was recently undertaken by Okinawa Prefecture where it was discovered that 83.3% of tourists to the area hope to experience “the beauty of the sea” and 83.8% expect to partake in marine sports and activities. On top of these two observances, 55% of tourists said that their most memorable experiences were “sea bathing/marine leisure” and that the satisfaction with the quality of the coastal areas stands at 97.2%. From the survey, the local government concludes that Okinawa is supported and relies on the income that comes from tourism and marine activities.

The economic crisis that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a devastating impact on the tourism and hospitality industry, and understandably Okinawa has not been immune to it’s effects. In particular marine based activity operators, who are normally in their busiest season right now, have struggled with the sudden halt in tourism and are facing financial difficulties or the threat of losing their businesses.

Amongst some of the Okinawan areas hit hardest by the lack of tourism is Ginowan City, where tourism has decreased dramatically by 94.7% compared to last year. To help recover tourism for the future, local divers from the area will be carrying out underwater cleaning and coral conservation activities during July.
By partaking in the project, the city hopes that they will be able to recover tourism at a rapid pace and that they will also be able to create a more sustainable marine environment. The underwater cleaning and coral conservation project will be taking place from Monday 6 July to Friday 17 July 2020. Updates on the project and the local area will be provided by the city on their official facebook page.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.