Airbnb hosts leaving in droves as coronavirus cancellations pile up

Short-term ‘minpaku’ accommodation hosts are starting to exit the short-term letting market. As of April 2020, the number of hosts that de-registered their properties topped 4,100 since the registration system was introduced in mid-2018. There are currently 25,000 registered minpaku properties across Japan.

Guest cancellations started to pour in from late January, as the novel coronavirus began to hamper tourism from mainland China. Hosts in the Kansai area were among the first to feel the impact, as Osaka is a popular destination for Chinese tourists. 

Since then, inbound tourism has essentially dried up for the time being as countries enforce travel bans and lockdowns. The Japanese government has temporarily prohibited entry by foreign nationals from 75 countries. Domestic travel is also in a funk after the Prime Minister extended the state of emergency nationwide from April 16. In the first half of April, passenger numbers on the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train were just 15% of normal levels. Seat reservations for the Golden Week holiday in late April / early May have dropped 90% and are at a historic low. The government is asking that people refrain from travelling during the holiday.

The operator of an online mergers and acquisitions platform has seen a six-fold increase in the number of listings by minpaku hosts looking to offload their operations. The sub-lets are located across the country, not just in Tokyo and Osaka. Hosts range from those doing it as a small side business to those running a full-time operation managing multiple properties. The site lists 159 minpaku-style operations listed for sale, 26 of which were listed this month. Prices range from 100,000 ~ 2,500,000 Yen (US$930 ~ 23,000) for the operational rights.

Jimoty, an online classifieds site, has listings ranging from hosts looking to sell their operations to those leaving the market and disposing of furnishings. The site has over 1,000 listings of home furnishings and electronics from hosts that have closed their accommodations. 

Source: The Nikkei Shimbun, April 18, 2020.

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