FUKUOKA – The Kyushu Shinkansen Line between Hakata and Kagoshima stations marked its first anniversary Monday.
While the new line initially had difficulty attracting passengers because of the timing of the March 11 disasters, it is now attracting tourists mainly from the Kansai and Chugoku regions to Kyushu.
Tourism grew especially because the Kyushu line is directly connected with the Sanyo Shinkansen Line running from Osaka through Hiroshima to Hakata.
It is estimated that tourists visiting the seven prefectures in Kyushu will spend a total of ¥2.49 trillion in fiscal 2011 through the end of this month, up 11 percent from the previous year, according to the Kyushu Economic Research Center.
“We did not have many tourists from the Kansai and Chugoku regions, but once they visit here, they will learn how attractive Kyushu is,” said Koji Karaike, president of Kyushu Railway Co., which runs the Kyushu Shinkansen Line.
Reflecting the rosy outlook, the daily round-trip rides between Shin-Osaka and Kagoshima-Chuo stations will be increased from the current 15 to 23 on March 17.
JR Kyushu did not hold a ceremony marking the one-year anniversary, but plans to hold events at its main stations Saturday.