The tourism industry is cheering the news that Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics since the major sporting event is certain to become a money-making bonanza.
“The anticipated increase in foreign visitors will have a significant effect on the Japanese economy,” said an official of major travel agency JTB Corp.
The capital’s hosting of the first Summer Games in 56 years is expected to be a tailwind for the government’s goal of boosting the annual tourist count to 10 million in 2013 and over 30 million in 2030.
“I’m pleased that Japan was again granted a chance to gather the world’s attention. Our industry will work as one to make Japan a tourism-oriented country,” said Jungo Kikuma, chairman of the Japan Association of Travel Agents.
“It is important for Japan to have foreigners see Tokyo and learn about Japan,” said Tetsuro Tomita, president of East Japan Railway Co.
Tomita is echoing many in the travel industry who hope to spur tourism by promoting food culture and Mount Fuji, the recently registered UNESCO World Heritage site, for example, and by increasing fans of Japan.
At the same time, Tomita acknowledged that there are still many shortcomings in Japan in terms of urban tourism.
An official of Kinki Nippon Tourist Co., which helps manage sporting events, said, “We are hoping to play an active role not only in the Olympics, but also in test competitions,” which will take place in Japan one to two years before the Olympics.
Also, hotels are excited about the Tokyo’s selection.
“We hope foreigners will visit Japan for the Olympics, make good memories and come back again,” said an official of Imperial Hotel Ltd.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Olympic bid committee will consider a park-and-ride system to reduce automobile traffic during the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The already heavy traffic jams that plague central Tokyo are expected to get even worse as the public transportation system is forced to absorb an estimated 10.1 million extra staff and tourists from Japan and abroad for the athletic spectacle.
Tokyo, however, believes that no new roads or railway lines will have to be built, thanks to its sophisticated transport networks covering highways, expressways and train and subway lines.
Still, metro government officials say the possibility of serious traffic jams in central Tokyo cannot be ruled out.
Tokyo was picked to host the 2020 Games at a general meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
The metropolitan government plans to set “Olympic lanes” on a total of 317 km of existing streets that will be used to link the Olympic village with competition venues and airports.
But heavier traffic jams might occur since only Olympic-related vehicles, including those carrying athletes, will be permitted to run on the specially designated lanes.
Under the envisaged park-and-ride system, parking areas would be set up near Tokyo borders with neighboring prefectures. People will be asked to leave their cars there and use railways or other public transport to head for the center of of the capital.
In addition, the logistics industry will be asked to limit truck operations in central Tokyo during the games.
In the meantime, shuttle bus services will have to be offered to and from the waterfront districts where the competition venues will be concentrated, because public transport services remain insufficient there.