- 20 Jan 2015
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Unprecedented travel restrictions have crippled tourism, forcing businesses in the sector to rethink strategies and explore new opportunities.
Getting the wheels back on Japan's travel industry
Unprecedented travel restrictions have crippled tourism, forcing businesses in the sector to rethink strategies and explore new opportunitiesThe area surrounding Yasaka Tower, a major sightseeing spot in Kyoto, was largely deserted in April or May amid the coronavirus pandemic. | KYODOBY ALEX MARTIN STAFF WRITER
JUN 6, 2020 ARTICLE HISTORY
As COVID-19 brought travel to a standstill in April, a traditional Japanese inn in Fukui Prefecture began selling takeout for those hunkered down at home, offering customers the opportunity to replicate a night at the upscale ryokan under their own roof.
The ¥29,000 package deal for four people offered by Grandia Housen comes with a bottle of locally produced sake, 10 liters of water from the inn’s hot spring that is to be mixed with bathwater to emulate a spa and, for each of the four bathers, a traditional kaiseki boxed dinner and a light cotton yukata kimono.
And that’s not all. Instead of being pampered by the ryokan’s staff, “guests” have access to online videos simulating check-ins and check-outs, as well as short clips explaining the menu, sake and the qualities of the onsen water.
Is it worth the price tag? “Including other takeout options, we’re happy to say we’ve been receiving more than 100 orders every weekend,” says Takazumi Yamaguchi, managing director of the ryokan.
Grandia Housen, a traditional Japanese inn in Fukui Prefecture, offers a ¥29,000 takeout package for four people that includes a bottle of locally produced sake, 10 liters of water from the inn’s hot spring that is to be mixed with bathwater to emulate a spa and, for each of the four bathers, a traditional kaiseki boxed dinner and a yukata light cotton kimono. | COURTESY OF GRANDIA HOUSEN
Grandia Housen is among approximately 50,000 hotels and traditional inns in Japan that have been facing one of the most wrenching consequences of the novel coronavirus pandemic: the restriction of movement. Beyond the canceled vacations and business trips, travel restrictions have crippled tourism like never before, forcing the industry to rethink strategies and explore new commercial opportunities.
“Things were stable back in February, but sales began falling in March and we’ve been mostly closed since April,” says Yamaguchi, whose family has been running the inn since 1963. “Under these circumstances, we have to diversify our business and find new ways to promote our ryokan.”
While Japan’s state of emergency has since been lifted and guests are gradually returning, Yamaguchi says the hospitality sector should be prepared for a second and even third wave of the pandemic.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” he says.
Few tourists have visited Kyoto in recent months amid continuing worries over the outbreak of the new coronavirus. | KYODO
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