Number of private lodgings in Japan falls with demand lost due to virus


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Some local governments are offering their own travel discount campaigns, but these are limited to hotels and inns, and do not cover private lodgings.

This is incorrect.

Private lodging (minpaku) are indeed covered as long as they comply with the framework of the local Go To program.

And proper hotels and inns are not automatically covered if they do not comply with the framework.

I know this first hand from my neighbour who runs a guesthouse that is registered as a minpaku. He's on the local Go To discount program (and these discounts only got cancelled in the past week due to the virus surge. Yep, the local gov was still offering discounts to entice travelers all through Obon, even though the national government was saying "please don't travel")

One of the main points to comply with is the reservation and payment system. A place needs to (usually) be linked with a domestic reservation website like Rakuten to give the discount. And if a hotel or inn is not on this (one of the inns near me is not bookable online... and its government owned... yeah, I shake my head on that too) then they usually can not be included in the discount program.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

What this Kyodo article does not clearly outline is that those who invested into the minpaku-craze (remember back in 2019 when touristic locations were crumbling under over-tourism and Abe wanted to have even more tourists come to Japan?) often invested a lot of money to transform their properties to allow for such business.

Also, all the below figures listed in the article are from 2020.

In fiscal 2020 through March this year, a total of 1.14 million people stayed in those private lodgings, down 77 percent from the previous year.

Among the 289 lodging operators who reported the closure of their businesses from September to October 2020 and responded to a survey, 49 percent said they could not expect to make any profit.

The government's Go To Travel subsidy campaign for domestic tourism, covering private accommodation, has been suspended nationwide since Dec 28 due to a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

All of the above is old news. There should be new figures available for 2021 as we are closing in on end of summer, so why are none listed?

The result as of 2021 being that the 1-year postponement from 2020 to 2021 and the ultimate cancellation of all foreign visitors over both 2020 and 2021 left quite a few of minpaku operators who are arguably more "private persons" than "business operators" heavily indebted for already 2 years and worse off than they were before the whole minpaku-thing started.

This would put the "Among the 289 lodging operators who reported the closure of their businesses from September to October 2020 and responded to a survey, 49 percent said they could not expect to make any profit."-part in a different light as in: are they still looking at operating at all...?

Tourism from abroad will remain shaky for years and when it comes to national tourism hotels, inn, etc have the market pretty much covered. Yes, as a national tourist you can look for "good deals" but at one point will need to balance what you pay with what you get and as such chose the "safety" (whatever this means for you) of an established hotel, inn, etc.

Ultimately for some operators, minpaku may less be about declaring bankruptcy of their "business" (the term used in the article) than declaring themselves bankrupt.

Quite a few minpaku-operators are probably kicking themselves in the rear for jumping on that train...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I remember 2 years ago, everybody investing in real estate was jumping on minpaku, the returns were crazy, and the prospect of the Olympics was mouth-watering. We were very lucky because we somehow decided the whole thing is too mendokusai, we would have lost huge money, as many people we know did

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Did anyone else notice that prices for AirBnb properties went stupid high after the Go To Campaign started?

If not the actual price, then the cleaning fees are outright extortion! I will go out of my way to let the host know that I'm staying at a major hotel instead of his or her property because they are being greedy.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Other tourism-related businesses are suffering too. Companies that took Asian visitors around inaka in buses, for example. Lots of onsen hotels became dependent on Asian tourism.

I can't quite recall the timing of the crackdown, but would the April 2019 to March 2020 period used as a benchmark here also include some months when AirBnb was still listing unlicensed properties? The crackdown on them removed thousands of places from AirBnb and caused a fall in people using that site in Japan even before Covid-19. I can't remember exactly when the crackdown was, but it was definitely 2018 or 2019.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


same here! So much red tape we thought we’d look again in a few years! Glad that was the case!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

One thing being pretty obvious by looking at the all the main so-called "strategies / policies" like minpaku that the government has rolled out over the last few years:

minpaku (private lodgings): you want more money? you got a housing? put your housing and money on the table, re-arrange it to sub-rent it while we just sit, wait and take taxes from your gains.

fukugyo (side-job): you want more money? put some time (and possibly money to start) on the table, set up your business and work some more in addition to your daily 10+ hours while we just sit, wait and take taxes from your gains.

crypto-currencies: you want more money? you got some money? put them on the table and invest in crypto while we just sit, wait and take taxes from your gains.

casino: you want more money? you got some money? put them on the (casino) table while we just sit, wait and take taxes from your gains.

Essentially, the population need to have something to invest (time, housing, money, etc), invest it plus add some more, while the government does squat and rakes in its cut from the crumbs you may be able to make. Oh yeah, don't bother them if you or your business belly up.

I can kind foresee a very dark (possibly not so far) future where one with no housing, no money and possibly not much time must look at oneself in the mirror to see what he can "invest" and sell one or more organs to make it. Of course, the government will just sit, wait and take taxes from your gains...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Very glad I didn't go the minpaku route. Definitely more worth taking your money to another country and investing it in somewhere that actually welcomes it, not that tries to strangle an initiative before it is even born, like they did here with minpaku. Of course it's also important to avoid places getting overrun with mass tourism and locals priced out of housing too, but Japan's response was just kneejerk paranoia that too many foreigners armed with suitcases (Shock! Horror!) would roll into their NIMBY neighbourhood.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I opened a "minpaku" up 3 months before Covid hit and it has been OK. The first 3 months were brilliant.

The 12 months after that were sketchy. Very few bookings between Jan and early June of this year but since then it has been going gangbusters.

I actually just bought some land nearby to build a new place. Things are cheap now for a reason. People are still scared. I get that.

However, pretty sure that 2 years from now everyone will have forgotten about Covid and will be bitching about other seemingly important stuff.

3 ( +3 / -0 )


It boils down to that there is too much regulatory capture in Japan! This has created issues with Tepco and the Olympics.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Good time to buy only going to get better from here..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I personally thought the "minpaku" regulatory framework was pretty doable.

Not fluent in Japanese but they kind of make it easy for you if you make an effort.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is sad. I believe many of these proprietors are silently suffering.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I personally thought the "minpaku" regulatory framework was pretty doable.

Yes it is. The rules only stop the worst excesses, like people letting out clearly residential apartments in the city, screwing over their very proximate neighbours in the process. Other cities in other countries have cracked down on Airbnb for exactly the same reason.

If you have a house in a nice town or near a beach somewhere, its pretty easy to set it up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No matter what, the tourist industry, when rebooted, Japan will always be a bucket list destination, so sit tight good people. Design your futures and concept guest houses. It’ll happen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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