Hotel operators in Japan are having mixed feelings about this summer’s Tokyo Olympics as they struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Some industry officials say the Tokyo Games are indispensable for their survival, while others say they are concerned over the current situation rather than the fate of the sporting event.
The Kaminarimon Ryokan hotel in Tokyo’s Asakusa district reopened in the summer of 2019 after being rebuilt to prepare for the games, originally scheduled for 2020.
Kaminarimon Ryokan had expected high demand from visitors from abroad, but the pandemic drastically changed the business environment.
Since the start of the pandemic, the hotel has closed often due to a lack of bookings. Its revenues are expected to fall by about 90% in January from a year before, a board director said.
“The Olympics bring excitement and I want the games to take place. But I regard the event as something like a bonus stage,” the director said. “First, I want to return to our daily lives.”
In Sapporo, which is due to host the marathon events in August, Sapporo Park Hotel will start accepting bookings for the event period next month.
A hotel official, however, expressed a pessimistic view, saying, “We won’t be able to see a great customer response.”
“We might repeat the practice of self-restraint after the coronavirus spreads as a result of people’s movements,” the official added.
Nippon Seinenkan Hotel in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, which offers a full view of the new National Stadium, where the opening and closing ceremonies and other Olympic events are scheduled to take place, said its rooms for the Tokyo Games period have been booked by companies and organizations from Japan and abroad.
“We’ll be in a hopeless situation if the Tokyo Games are canceled,” said Shigeyuki Mitamura, general manager at the hotel. “The hotel industry won’t be able to survive.”
Mitamura said he understands people’s concerns over the games amid the resurgence of coronavirus cases. But “I want people to know that there are people who rely on the Olympics,” he added.
The quadrennial sporting event is usually known as a time for a host country to enjoy robust demand from foreign tourists, but the outlook is bleak for this year.
“It would be difficult for the hotel industry to recover until inbound tourists are back,” said Takao Ikado, professor at Takasaki City University of Economics.
Even after private consumption recovers, it requires time for the tourism industry to see positive economic effects, Ikado said.
“Hotel revenue may remain weak until around 2023,” he said.
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