Hotel market heats up in Japan in run-up to Olympics 2020

RESURGENCE in visitor arrivals and the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon is placing the Japanese hospitality market in the spotlight.

Japan broke its tourist record last year with 13.4 million international arrivals and, according to a tourism white paper released by the Japanese government last week, spending by foreign visitors to Japan soared more than 43 per cent in 2014 from the year before.

The same paper said total income from the industry came to 2.03 trillion yen (US$16.4 billion), with most of the additional revenue from countries in the rest of Asia where incomes are rising.

Hotel operators here are saying they can already feel the lure of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games provoking interest in the destination.

“We have seen a noticeable increase in our occupancy rates over the last 18 months and we are very much hoping that will continue as we get closer to the Olympics in 2020,” said Akane Murakami, a spokeswoman for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Tokyo.

The games are still too far away for the hotel to be drawing up specific plans, she said, but given the notorious shortage of accommodation options in Tokyo it is unlikely that the Mandarin Oriental will have free rooms when the Olympics are on.

The Four Seasons Marunouchi is similarly unlikely to have vacancies, agreed Akiko Kikuchi, as “demand for high-end accommodation is always strong in Tokyo”.

Tokyo has seen new openings in recent months, including the Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel and the Hotel Unizo, both in the Ginza district, and there have been suggestions that other international chains are also attempting to secure land in Tokyo for new developments.

Inbound tourism has also been boosted by the yen’s weakness against other currencies, relaxed visa regulations and expansion of Japan’s duty-free system.

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