• Nna/kyodo

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West Japan Railway Hotel Development Ltd., a hotel chain operator in western Japan, opened its first overseas branch in Singapore on Friday, in a bid to attract more tourists from Southeast Asia and Oceania to Japan.

Amid a surge in visitors from the region to Japan on the back of high economic growth, the Kyoto-based company hopes to attract them to its hotels through sales promotions and marketing efforts at the branch in Singapore, President Hitoshi Nakamura said.

With a majority of visitors coming from East Asia, the United States and Europe, Nakamura said his hotels want to draw in more customers from Southeast Asian countries including Singapore and Oceania.

The operator, known as JR-West Hotels, now runs hotels mainly under the Granvia brand in major cities such as Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima, and plans to renovate or open three hotels with more moderate fees by the spring of 2019.

With the opening of the branch in Singapore, the wholly owned subsidiary of West Japan Railway Co. also intends to capitalize on potential demand for meetings, inspections, conventions and exhibitions at its hotels as a number of multinational companies are located in the city-state.

Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture, the gateway to western Japan, handled a record 6.79 million foreign passengers in the first half of 2017 — up 12 percent from a year earlier — with an increase in low-cost carrier flights to the airport.

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