The onset of the pandemic and international travel bans in March 2020 saw occupancy rates in Japan’s hotels plummet. Resort hotels saw occupancy levels drop to just 3.3% during the State of Emergency in May 2020, while traditional ryokans weren’t far behind with 5.9% occupancy.
Amidst the turmoil, the country’s reliable, no-fuss business hotels outperformed all others. In May, when all other hotel types were close to single-digit occupancy, the business hotels did slightly better with 20.3% occupancy.
The government launched the controversial ‘Go To Travel’ campaign in July, offering subsidized domestic travel. It succeeded in boosting hotel occupancies but was halted in late December as coronavirus cases hit record highs. Hotel occupancies plummeted in January 2021 but have seen a slight improvement in February.
Pre-pandemic, business and city hotels were always the top performers in terms of occupancy, with levels around 75 ~ 80% on average. Resort hotels were around 50 ~ 60%, while ryokans were around 40%.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s hotel definitions:
- City Hotel: A hotel in an urban center other than a business or resort hotel.
- Business Hotel: A hotel that targets travelers on business trips.
- Resort Hotel: A hotel often in a sightseeing destination targeting holiday makers.
- Ryokan: Traditional-style lodgings.
- Simple Lodgings: Eg. Capsule hotel, dormitory, hostel.
Source: Japan Tourism Agency, March 31, 2021.
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