When Okinawa Tourist Service Inc. was founded on Oct. 1, 1958, in Matsuo, Naha City. the first president of the new company, Ryokou Higashi, had an idea to provide American servicemen and their families in Okinawa tours to overseas.
Other potential customers included American military veteran groups wanting to visit Okinawa on memorial trips. The new travel agency also started promoting tours to Okinawa for Japanese general public.
In the 1970’s the company established its car rental business division and opened offices at several locations in the Japanese mainland cities, as the demand for domestic travel among the Japanese increased with the rapidly rising living standards. OTS President Ryokou Higashi used to preach his belief that, “Anticipating the changes in the world is the secret for a 100-year continuous success for a company.”
On the occasion of celebrating the OTS 60th anniversary on this Oct. 1st, the current Okinawa Tourist Chairman Tony Yoshikazu Higashi wants very much to stick to the original company philosophy of “Keeping our roots firmly in Okinawa while reaching out to the wide world.”
He emphasizes that while the company steadily increases sales bases outside of the prefecture and overseas, his goal is not to make the company as big as possible for only the sake of the size, but to grow so that it enables him to realize his own ideas and goals. “We are always placing emphasis on Okinawa. That’s how we can teach our customers the charm points of Okinawa, and make sure we can offer our services at competitive prices that our customers can afford and enjoy the experience. Keeping our roots firmly in Okinawa makes us strong,” Higashi explains.
Higashi says that the trend for the foreseeable future is for the number of visitors to Okinawa from Asian countries to grow. “That’s why we have opened offices in various major cities in south-east and east Asia over the past few years, first in Taipei. Our latest offices were opened in Singapore, Seoul and New Zealand,” he explains, adding “That allows us to serve our customers all the way from their departure in their own countries to Okinawa, and also offer them additional tours to other parts of Japan. We already see this kind of business growing.”
Higashi also sees great promise in information technology. “It helps us to collect information on what our customers want, where and on what they are spending money. Based on that info, we can make better tours and better promotions,” Higashi concludes. “All that will help Okinawa to become the No. 1 tour destination in Japan, and OTS wants to be the leading enterprise in Okinawa tourism.”