The pandemic experiences of small tourism businesses in Japan are eerily similar. A lucrative 2019 prompted them to invest in a 2020 that was supposed to bring the world to the Tokyo Olympics. Instead, they were not only among the first businesses to buckle under the pandemic, but might be some of the last to bounce back.

Now that the Olympics and a national vaccine rollout are underway, The Japan Times checks in with four small, non-Japanese-owned tourism businesses — tour providers Arigato Travel, Foodie Adventure Japan and Maction Planet, and tourist accommodation service Tokyo Family Stays. How are they holding up? And how did they pivot to stay in business 18 months later?

To go (or not to go) travel