Tokyo’s Ota Ward has announced plans to relax accommodation regulations in order to provide accommodation for the growing number of foreign tourists in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It is expected that the new rules may go into effect by the end of this year.
Hotels in Ota Ward are currently operating with occupancy rates of over 90%, and there are concerns of a shortage in accommodation options for visitors.
Approximately 57.6% of foreign tourists in Tokyo stay for 6 days or less, while 42.4% stay for 7 days or longer.
The new regulations, if passed, may allow vacant apartments and houses to be rented out on a short term basis (minimum of 7 nights), provided they are located within to-be-designated zones, meet certain safety requirements and allow the local city council the right to inspect the premises. Currently, leasing out residences or rooms for periods of less than 30 days requires the operator or landlord to obtain a hotel license.
The proposed revision would only apply to the following land zones:
- Category I Residential
- Category II Residential
- Neighbourhood Commercial
The map below shows the zones where hotel use is permitted, provided licensing is obtained (green for hotels under 3,000 sqm in size, and yellow for hotels of any size).
Ota, which is mostly a suburban residential area, includes Haneda Airport. The ward has a residential vacancy rate of 17.4%.
Osaka is also considering introducing similar regulations. If Ota’s example proves successful, other areas may also follow.
The Nikkei Shimbun, September 28, 2015.
NHK, September 29, 2015.