Huis Ten Bosch resort restructuring aimed at boosting quality: Sawada


Theme park operator Huis Ten Bosch Co. President Hideo Sawada said his company plans to boost quality of service in 2012, which marks the third year of its restructuring led by travel agency H.I.S. Co., of which he is also chairman.

“We focused on attracting visitors in our first year and achieving profits in the second year. This year, which marks the third year, we want to make it a year for boosting quality,” Sawada, who assumed the presidency of the theme park operator in 2010, said in a recent interview.

The theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, opened in 1992. A replica of a 17th-century Dutch city, it collapsed in 2003 under the weight of heavy initial investment costs and a decline in visitors.

H.I.S. has been providing key support in the resort’s restructuring efforts since the park completed court-backed rehabilitation in April 2010.

Asked why he is placing priority on boosting quality rather than the number of visitors, Sawada said, “We cannot attract returning customers if the park does not offer both (quality) service and content.”

He noted that visitors to the park have to wait in line for parking spaces and restaurant seats when the number of visitors exceeds 20,000 in a day.

“In such circumstances, we could only accept up to 30,000 visitors per day,” he said.

In its 2011 financial year, between October 2010 and September 2011, the company saw its first full-year net profit of ¥1.9 billion. Sawada attributed the earnings improvement to cost reductions but said further cutbacks are possible.

Asked how he will slash spending, Sawada said costs could be reduced by replacing old facilities that have poor energy efficiency with new ones.

“By installing a new system, we hope to cut annual energy costs by ¥300 million to ¥400 million from the current ¥800 million to ¥1 billion,” he said, adding he hopes to increase the ratio of solar power generation.

Casino plan for Seagaia


Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. Chairman and President Hajime Satomi has indicated the company is hoping to open a casino at the Seagaia resort facilities in the city of Miyazaki.

“As a matter of course, we would like to keep it in mind,” Satomi told a news conference Tuesday in Miyazaki after his company acquired Seagaia operator Phoenix Resort K.K. for ¥400 million early last week. Sega Sammy runs amusement facilities in Japan.

Seagaia “must have a casino because it will lure lots of visitors from Asia and create jobs,” Satomi said.

But he denied that Sega Sammy’s acquisition of Phoenix Resort was directly related to the casino plan, noting that casinos are currently illegal in Japan.