• Kyodo

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Major convenience store FamilyMart Co. said Monday it will allow tourists staying in short-term accommodations rented through Airbnb Inc. to receive and return door keys at some of its stores.

Ahead of a new law on the minpaku (private lodging) business that takes force in June, FamilyMart hopes the service will lead to increased revenue as Airbnb users shop at its stores while picking up or returning door keys.

“Our business will expand if foreign travelers staying in private homes do some shopping at our stores,” said FamilyMart President Takashi Sawada at a news conference in Tokyo.

Under a business tie-up struck in April with the Japanese unit of the U.S. online home-rental giant, FamilyMart will set up key boxes for the service at around 150 stores mainly in Tokyo by the end of February.

Customers will be able to confirm their identities by connecting to a call center via tablets close to the boxes.

Japanese convenience stores are stepping up efforts to cater to travelers staying in private lodging, as the new law will allow property owners in Japan to rent out vacant homes or rooms to tourists for up to 180 days per year after registering with municipalities.

Seven-Eleven Japan Co., the nation’s biggest convenience store chain, is teaming up with travel agency JTB Corp. to offer a similar key collection and return service in June.

The law is aimed at coping with a sharp increase in foreign visitors, and the consequent shortage of accommodation, as its tourism boom grows toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

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