Airbnb begins to recover in Japan, a year after crackdown
Nikkei -- Apr 18
Airbnb and other home-sharing services are recovering in Japan in the wake of strict regulations introduced almost a year ago, and some industry experts say there is more room to flourish, especially in rural areas.

According to the Japan Tourism Agency, 14,701 minpaku, or private lodgings, were registered with local authorities as of March 15, 2019 -- a hefty increase from the 2,210 listed as of June 15, 2018, when the new rules were implemented.

The number of rooms currently registered with the JTA is still only about 20% of the 62,000 homes listed on Airbnb just before the new law hit the market. Airbnb was forced to remove nearly 80% of its listings because hosts had not registered with the local government; thousands of users saw their existing bookings canceled.

But new projections from Fuji Keizai Networks, a leading information provider, show the home-share market almost doubling by 2020 from 2018, suggesting a full recovery. Chris Lehane, global head of policy and public affairs for Airbnb, confirms its listings are on a recovery track and says the tone of its discussions with the government has changed. Last June, he says, the government was "pushing for us to respect legal structure," whereas now they are "talking about moving forward."

The strict rules were designed to protect Japan's hotel industry, says Takayuki Miyajima, a senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute. The regulations cap the time owners can rent out their homes to 180 days a year. The private lodgings are also subject to local regulations, which can vary from place to place. In the city of Kyoto, for example, hosts can operate only from mid-January to mid-March.

The Airbnb "shock" rattled travelers, most of whom were foreign tourists. According to data from the JTA, some 80% of guests at Airbnb and its rivals are from overseas.

News source: Nikkei
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