The shock postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has dealt a savage blow to Japan’s hotels and tourism industry, already reeling from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many operators have seen bookings decimated by the virus and had been clinging to the hope that the Games would help them claw back this year’s losses.
“This is an enormous shock for us, with sales in many of our member hotels already down by half because of plunging demand for tourism, not only from abroad but also inside Japan due to the coronavirus,” said Shigemi Sudo, secretary general of the Tokyo Hotels and Ryokans Association.
“Many rooms are going to be cancelled, and it will be difficult to fill those empty rooms with new customers given the situation,” he said.
The delay, which came after weeks of Olympic organisers and officials insisting the sporting extravaganza would go ahead despite the soaring number of virus infections globally, leaves the industry in limbo as they wait for a new date to be set for 2021.
Like the rest of the world, Japan’s hotel industry has been devastated by the spread of the coronavirus with bookings down by as much as 90 percent year-on-year in the March-April period, according to a survey by the Japan Tourism Agency.
The agency is fielding calls from struggling businesses across the country.