China’s outbound group travel ban a blow to Japan’s retail, tourism sectors – Nationwide
China’s ban on all outbound group travel to stop the spread of a deadly coronavirus has come as a blow to Japan’s retail and tourism sectors, which had been looking forward to robust spending by Chinese visitors during the Lunar New Year holidays. China announced the measure Sunday, a day after the start of the holiday period, in which millions of Chinese usually go overseas.
Sales at department stores in Japan slumped in 2019, falling 1.4 percent from the previous year on a same-store basis for the second straight year, with the drop blamed on bad summer weather and a warm winter. Analysts at Nomura Securities Co estimate that a 10 percent fall in the annual number of foreign visitors would lop 0.1 percent off Japan’s gross domestic product. Hidenori Suezawa, a financial and fiscal analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc, said that on top of the fall in inbound visitors, a spread of the virus in Japan could cause a drop in people going out and the cancelations of events, pushing down consumer spending.
Other analysts pointed to the potential impact on major Japanese manufacturers due to disruptions in supply chains. Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus originated, is home to manufacturing plants belonging to Japanese automakers Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co., as well as France’s Renault SA.
Japanese tourism companies were busy responding to cancellations of tours by Chinese travellers, who have been a major source of revenue for them. Hato Bus Co, which is known for offering tours around Tokyo, said Chinese tourists, including two from Wuhan, have made cancelations. The operator will install disinfectant alcohol in all of its buses from Tuesday. The decrease in Chinese visitors comes as a setback for Japan’s goal to attract 40 million visitors from overseas in 2020.
Warm winter bad news for Japan’s ski resorts – Nationwide
Record low snowfall in Japan has forced many ski resorts to shut their doors and is threatening a World Cup ski jumping competition, with organizers forced to truck in extra powder. Northern Japan saw just 38 percent of its average snowfall in December, with only a “little” snow seen in western Japan, the country’s meteorological agency said. The snowfall figures for December are the lowest since the organization started collecting records in 1961, an agency official said Thursday.
Daisen White Resort in Tottori has been shut since early January after opening over the year-end holiday thanks to a sprinkle of snow and 10 machines that pumped out artificial powder. Since Jan 6, however, it has been so warm that even the fake snow has melted on the slopes. The slope is scheduled to partially re-open on Friday after snow fell on Wednesday.
According to local media, more than a third of ski resorts across Japan have stayed closed since the beginning of the year. In Zao, one of Japan’s best ski resorts, organizers were trucking-in extra powder for the landing slope of a ski jump where the women’s World Cup competitions will take place this weekend.
The unseasonably warm weather has already caused headaches in Sapporo, where organizers of the city’s famed snow festival have had to hire a record number of trucks to bring in snow from the suburbs and surrounding towns to build their signature sculptures. The festival, which runs for three weeks from Jan 31, is a major draw for the region, attracting more than 2.7 million visitors last year.
The weather agency’s Takekawa warned little relief is expected for ski resort operators.
Late-night train services planned during Tokyo Olympics – Tokyo
The Olympics organizing committee and Tokyo metropolitan government said Wednesday they are making arrangements with train operators to offer special late-night train services for those watching the Summer Games between July 24 and Aug 9.
In the metropolitan area, eight venues are scheduled to hold events lasting until 11 p.m. or later. Train and subway services will be extended on around 60 lines operated by 19 companies serving the area, they said. Timetables will be finalized around April.
In the seaside area where the Olympic venues are concentrated, the Rinkai Line will operate until around 2 a.m. The committee and the metropolitan government are considering asking railway operators to run extra trains during the daytime on certain lines where Olympic events are expected to cause congestion.
As for venues outside of Tokyo, the committee is considering having train operators extend service hours for those watching soccer matches at Sapporo in Hokkaido, Rifu in Miyagi Prefecture and Kashima in Ibaraki Prefecture.