Okinawa works to boost tech adoption in tourism amid Covid

Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture is strengthening efforts to improve tourism offerings using technology in a bid to support safe travel amid the pandemic.

At ResorTech Okinawa, a trade fair held alongside Tourism Expo Japan last week, Okinawa-based companies rolled out new services and solutions for a vast range of providers including accommodations, F&B, retail and transportation as well as DMOs and municipalities.

Recruit Lifestyle Okinawa, an exhibitor at ResorTech Okinawa, promoting e-wallet app Airpay 

The second annual event, which was supported by the prefectural and national governments, marked the culmination of a two-part exhibition. The first attracted 135 exhibitors and more than 8,000 visitors over February 5–6.

“We want to leverage technology to enhance the safety, security, quality and comfort of the lifestyles and activities of both residents and visitors to resort destinations,” said Junichi Inagaki, ResorTech Okinawa executive committee chairman, adding that such concerted efforts would drive greater “productivity and value-add” across the tourism sector.

In response to the Covid-19 crisis, many exhibitors showcased touchless systems designed to offer peace of mind and reduce the need for staff due to the drop in visitors.

Yoshinori Kanemi, representative director of IT company Gold Value Creation, and Ryo Yamada, representative director of accommodation creator United Corporation, introduced their collaboration, MujInn, a system that offers unmanned front desk operations.

Check-in can be completed online in advance including submission of copies of travel documents, while payment can be made by machine at a convenience store. On arrival, guests can confirm their booking by simply snapping a photo at the MujInn terminal, which offers a real-time chat function for queries in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean and Thai.

“The system is a no-stress, no-fuss way for customers to check-in easily without delay,” said Kanemi, adding that automating such repetitive processes frees employees up to focus on higher-value tasks that help propel businesses forward.

Prashant Nonayya Bangera, president of Rati, which also introduced its smart check-in system, said the technology is reducing crowding in lobbies and helping cut labor costs.

Post-check-in, his solution includes a real-time chat option with the hotel’s front desk, housekeeping, restaurant and spa departments to help visitors make the most of their stay.

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