With Olympics upcoming, Japan hotel construction in full swing

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Tokyo National Stadium
The National Stadium under construction in Tokyo. It will be the maoin venue for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Photo Credit: Ned Snowman/Shutterstock

SEVILLE, SPAIN -- In preparation to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and 2019 Rugby World Cup, Japan is upping its airlift, hotel capacity and beer production.

Eleven hotels are slated to open between now and 2021, with a Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency and InterContinental among those opening this year and a Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott and Hyatt Centric next year. A W Hotel is set to open in 2021 in Osaka.

The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) said here at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit that in its top three markets (Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto) the number of hotel rooms will rise 38% by 2020, helping to alleviate what they say is a hotel room shortage.

Japan also has chartered two cruise ships to accommodate visitors during the Olympic games. The Sun Princess will be docked in Yokohama, the MSC Lirica in Tokyo. 

The hotel boom comes on top of Japan's remarkable tourism growth over the last decade. In 2018 the country welcomed a record 31.2 million visitors, an 8.7% increase over the prior year and almost quadruple the number of 2008 visitors. The United States, Japan's largest long-haul source market, accounted for 1.5 million visitors.

The country has also achieved seven straight years of growth in visitor spending, reaching $40.4 billion in 2018.

JNTO set a goal of attracting 40 million inbound arrivals by 2020. Mamoru Kobori, executive vice president of the JNTO, said at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit in Seville that it is launching a global campaign to attract more long-haul visitors and hopes its spotlight from the major world events it is hosting will help. 

Japan's Olympic torch relay will kick off in Fukushima, the area decimated by the 2011 tsunami and earthquake, on March 26, 2020. Japan will be the first Asian host of the Rugby World Cup, which lasts from September to November of this year.

"We know rugby fans love beer," Kobori said, adding that the country's restaurants and bars are preparing to increase their stock in preparation for "thirsty rugby fans."

Japan's air capacity is also fast-growing. From 2015 to 2020, air slots at Tokyo Haneda Airport is expected to jump from 60,000 annually to 99,000.

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