In 2018, the Kansai area was struck by an earthquake in June and typhoon Jebi in September. Although the effects of these two events had very little impact on Kyoto’s tourism industry, they did affect Osaka which saw a drop in visitor arrivals from other Asian countries. STR’s Global Hotel Study for 2018 reported a 7.7% drop in the room revenue index for Osaka, while Kyoto saw a milder 0.2% decrease.
Given that these two cities are only 13 minutes apart by bullet train, why did Kyoto perform better than neighboring Osaka?
Tourists from Asian countries account for 85.7% of foreign visitors to Japan, with 92.0% of visitor arrivals at Kansai airport originating from Asia.
Of the 52 Kyoto hotels surveyed, the share of guests from Asian countries was only 58.8%, with visitors from Europe, North America and other locations accounting for over 40% of guests. Rihga Royal Hotel Kyoto commented that many of their European and North American guests arrive via Tokyo’s Narita Airport. As a result, the temporary closure of Kansai Airport due to typhoon damage had little impact on their reservations.
The 2018 survey found that hotel guests from Italy increased by 36.9% in 2018, while guests from Spain increased by 26.2%. Up until recently, hotels and tourism organizations had put great effort into promoting Kyoto across China and Asia. Now that Kyoto’s appeal has been well established across Asia, promotional activities are pivoting towards attracting visitors from Europe, North America and Australia.
Across Japan, STR reported that Japan had the highest occupancy level in the Asia Pacific region at 83.8%, exceeding Singapore by 0.1 points.
Source: The Kyoto Shimbun, April 5, 2019.