Japan has an ambitious plan to double its tourism by increasing the number of visitors to the country to 40 million by 2020. While the plan seems to work well and the number of tourists is growing, the country started experiencing shortage of hotels.
According to the report prepared by Mizuho Research Institute, in 2020 there will be a shortage of 10,000 hotel rooms for foreign tourists in case the number of visitors to the country reaches 25 million. In order to cope with potential lack of hotels, the country’s government has already encouraged municipalities to make hotel building regulations easier. The government also considers the idea of subsidizing projects that turn abandoned schools, Japan-style houses and other buildings into hotels and other tourist accommodation. There is also an idea to equip all hotels and inns in small cities with Western-style toilets to encourage foreigners travel more in the country. This is particularly true about Japan-style inns that may look quite odd for international tourists. The Japan Tourism Agency will cover half of toilet replacement costs.
Municipalities in Japan have a law regarding floor area ratio when building hotels. As a rule set between 200 and 1,300 percent, the ratio has been already eased for central pars of Tokyo and Osaka. This summer, the law is expected to be eased in other big cities. That would encourage developers build new hotels and rebuild old ones. Meanwhile, the government prepares campaigns to lure tourists to small towns and villages of Japan. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries was ordered to select 50 new locations where tourists can try farming and fishing.
These measures are very welcome as it’s getting harder for foreign visitors to book a hotel in Japan. The average occupancy estimated 60.5% in 2015, which is significantly higher than average occupancy in 2011 51.8%. Naturally, biggest cities experience higher occupancy. Hotels in Osaka are 85.2% full; occupancy of Tokyo hotels estimates 82.3%, of Kyoto 71.4%, of Aichi and Chiba 70.9% and 70.7% respectively.