National

'Love hotels' targeted for conversion to meet lodging shortage

Kyodo

The government wants “love hotels,” which offer rooms to couples, converted into regular hotels to address an expected shortage of accommodations in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, a source said Saturday.

The occupancy rate of over 10,000 such hotels across the country is around 40 percent on weekdays, according to a hotel industry body, making them a potentially useful resource to meet growing lodging demands.

One area of concern is the providing of accommodations for families. Under the law on “amusement businesses,” those aged under 18 are barred from entering love hotels.

The government also recently told the state-run lender, the Japan Finance Corp., to increase loans to operators of the hotels if they ask for financial assistance to convert the facilities into regular hotels, according to the government source.

The government also plans to increase awareness among hotel operators of the state lender’s enhanced funding for such remodeling, the source said.

In addition to remodeling of rooms for family use, operators need to be equipped with facilities to serve food to be accredited as regular hotels.

Japan has made tourism a key pillar of its economic strategy. A record 19.74 million foreign visitors arrived in Japan last year, compelling the government recently to double its target for the number of foreign tourists to 40 million a year in 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The government has already relaxed rules to make it easier for people to offer rooms in private homes to accommodate inbound travelers.

Industry experts say the nation does not have enough accommodation capacity to meet its target of 40 million foreign tourists by 2020.