National

Licensed private lodgings top 10,000 in Japan, concentrated in cities

Kyodo

The number of licensed private lodgings for tourists in Japan topped 10,000 in early November, but the facilities were concentrated in urban areas, the Japan Tourism Agency said Tuesday.

Since a new law legalizing “minpaku” lodgings took effect in June, private home rentals in Japan have continued increasing by over 1,000 per month from 2,210 in the first month on the back of a growing number of foreign tourists.

As of late October, there were 3,444 lodgings in central Tokyo’s 23 wards, followed by 1,211 in Sapporo and 1,055 in the city of Osaka. Lodgings in the three popular tourist destinations accounted for nearly 60 percent of the total number of 9,726 in Japan at the time, according to the agency.

On the other hand, the number of private lodgings registered in rural areas remained small, with only five in Akita, six in Fukui and eight in Yamagata prefectures.

“More foreign tourists are traveling to rural areas and we see potential demand” for private lodgings there, an agency official said.

The agency is planning to promote private home rentals in the countryside by introducing cases in which such accommodation helped revitalize areas, the official said.

The central government, which aims to boost tourism as a pillar of its growth strategy, expects private lodgings to make up for hotel room shortages ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

About 23.47 million tourists visited Japan in the January to September period, up 10.7 percent from a year earlier. Japan aims to welcome 40 million foreign visitors by 2020.