Japan fully opened its borders to international travellers in October 2022, abolishing many of the COVID- era travel requirements of package tours or travel agent-booked flights and accommodation. However, the face of tourism has changed dramatically post-pandemic, and Yoshiharu Hoshino, the CEO of Hoshino Resorts, is looking to create more sustainable and elevated travel experiences for international visitors through a series of subtle changes.
In an event hosted on 11 July 2023 in Sydney, Hoshino spoke to members of local media about the ways in which he and his business survived the pandemic, and how they plan to lure visitors back today and in the future.
He touched on the ways in which Hoshino Resorts employed notions of ‘micro tourism’ to survive the pandemic. That is, marketing places and destinations to local visitors who may only live a few hours’ drive away.
“We lost 100% of the inbound market in we had in 2019, but in 2020 we increased the micro-segment to cover some of the losses we had,” said Mr Hoshino. Hoshino also developed custom policies, such as collaboration projects with local tourism stakeholders and businesses.
Hoshino referenced the way in which society has come to view tourism as changed, that we no longer enjoy overcrowded cities or tourist hotspots, and the damage that can occur as a result. “Do we go back to a 2019 tourism model, or do we find a new tourism concept?” he asked.
A new tourism concept for Hoshino Resorts
Hoshino Resorts as a company has decided upon the latter, moving towards more sustainable business practices within their properties. “We have been trying to eliminate waste, plastic bottles and plastic toothbrushes. We’ve been doing this even at luxury resorts just to eliminate the waste,” said Hoshino.
In an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Hoshino Resorts are also trying to promote longer stays by providing facilities for both business and leisure travellers and requiring a minimum two-night stay in some properties.
“We try to promote a longer stay in Japan by creating more activities and workstation equipment and environments, so visitors can come and stay with us, and at the same time work away from home, as now it’s not unusual to work online,” said Mr Hoshino.
The business is also investing in increased convenience for travellers at some properties, given that accessing some Hoshino Resorts’ ski properties can be difficult for international visitors. As such, Hoshino Resorts plans to construct a lift to connect Hoshino Resorts Alts Bandai and Hoshino Resorts Nekoma Snow Park and Resort in Fukushima Prefecture. The lift will allow visitors to ride the lift to and from Nekoma Ski Resorts and Alts Bandai.
Construction has begun in the spring of 2023 and the lifts will be in operation from December 2023. The total number of lifts and courses will be 13 and 33, respectively, making it one of the largest ski resorts in Japan.