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Domestic hotels seeing unexpected results from coronavirus pandemic

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It may be stating the obvious, but the coronavirus pandemic has threatened the very existence of the hospitality industry. 

One of the latest casualties, well covered in the mass media, was the closing of the 458-room Hotel Grand Palace in Iidabashi, which ended 49 years of operation at 2 p.m. on June 30. Its business had undergone gradual decline for the past decade, but the pandemic was undoubtedly the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, with revenues from accommodations, banquet, food and beverage, etc, during 2020 reportedly down by 70% from the previous year. 

According to Tokyo Shoko Research, in 2020 188 hotels in Japan declared bankruptcy -- a 57.3% increase over 2019. In 55 of those cases, the cause for business failure was attributed specifically on the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Shukan Jitsuwa (Aug 19-26) reports that while occupancy rates in Tokyo had managed to pick up somewhat during the April-May Golden Week period, with the capital's declaration of its fourth state of emergency and the decision by Olympics organizers not to admit spectators to events spurred a string of cancellations. 

High-ranking IOC officials from abroad may be enjoying their accommodations at such top-rated hostelry as The Okura Tokyo, the Prince Park  Tower Tokyo and other deluxe digs, demand for rooms at the so-called city hotels, and the business hotels occupying the class beneath them, has been considerably lower. According to data from the Japan Tourism Agency, occupancy rates at some establishments during the month of July had fallen below 20%.

Business-class hotels in parts of central Tokyo had anticipated a small pickup in demand from bookings by Olympics staff, who preferred to stay in town overnight rather than endure long commutes. Unfortunately, other problems seem to have surfaced. 

"Every day we'd receive reservations requests for a dozen or so people, but only one or two actually showed up to check in," says an employee at business hotel. "So we wind up throwing away most of the ingredients of what would have been used to prepare the no-show breakfasts. It's a terrible waste of tax money." 

At hotels in Okinawa, Kyushu, Hokkaido and Kansai, on the other hand, requests for reservations have been pouring in, particularly since the long holiday weekend of July 22-25. 

"People from Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama have accounted for more than half those requesting rooms," says a source at a resort hotel in Okinawa. 

According to one of the domestic air carriers, reservations for those traveling during the traditional mid-August O-Bon holidays are also up, to some destinations by more than threefold over 2020. 

What's the explanation? 

"Even with, or perhaps because of, the rapid increase in coronavirus infections, 'evacuating Tokyo' has become something of a trend," a business analyst tells the magazine. 

Perhaps, the writer concludes, the government and Dentsu were able to bring big money and political power to bear, and forcibly impose the Olympics on an unwilling public. But this summer the capital's hotel trade seems to be paying a painfully high price.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

9 Comments
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Tokyo people have been the worst during this pandemic. Travelling whenever they feel like. I say put Tokyo only under lockdown until people learn how to behave properly, wear masks properly, work from home, and stop selfish needless travel.

No wonder the rest of Japan dislike Tokyo.

-10 ( +10 / -20 )

It isn’t the virus that’s killing the travel industry, it’s the unnecessary and totalitarian lockdowns that are doing it.

-4 ( +11 / -15 )

My wife and I have felt no issues affecting us with our monthly one-week travels and are very welcomed and received by hotel staff all over Japan. We do talk with the hotel management and it has been very tight all over the place, but hotel accommodations are well within anyone's budgets and super clean.

Most places have upgraded and the staff are fabulous and kind.

I understand the pain of places booking people and the no-shows which are really bad on the part of those booking. I hope a percentage of their cost for the no-show is taken from them.

Parts of this article come from different articles. Asahi and Mainichi had some very good articles about this issue the last few days.

If you can take some time to travel do so with caution and be sure to wear the masks, wash your hands and be polite. Even if you have had your inoculations still follow precautionary measures. Hotels and their staff will really appreciate your efforts and will always treat you with kindness and welcome you.

5 ( +13 / -8 )

I take business trips monthly and three of the nice and super clean small capsule hotels and guest houses I used to stay at are all closed down now.

The govt., instead of encouraging cross prefectural travel with the Go To Campaign, should've funded in-prefectural travel. That would've helped these hotels out while convincing more people to stay within their own prefectures thus somewhat containing the virus spread.

The restaurants, bars and hotels have unfairly taken the brunt of this pandemic exacerbated by poor government decisions.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Japanese hotels are overpriced!

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

@Numan - Tokyo hotels are not overpriced to other big cities at all. Very comparable. Checked the price of a decent room in London??

@Thomas Goodtime - Well, I just thank God on a daily basis that you don't run the country.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

It isn’t the virus that’s killing the travel industry, it’s the unnecessary and totalitarian lockdowns that are doing it.

There are no lockdowns.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

The govt., instead of encouraging cross prefectural travel with the Go To Campaign, should've funded in-prefectural travel. That would've helped these hotels out while convincing more people to stay within their own prefectures thus somewhat containing the virus spread. The restaurants, bars and hotels have unfairly taken the brunt of this pandemic exacerbated by poor government decisions."

Very accurately said.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Data manipulation and frauds. Classic in Japan INC.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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