Japanese hot spring tourism at a crossroads
asiatimes.com -- Jul 25
Hot springs, justifiably, are a major tourism resource for Japan. The 27,000 hot springs dotted around the country generated US$11.8 billion in revenue in 2013, representing more than one-fifth of the $50 billion global hot-springs market.

Japanese hot springs were set for a further boom as analyses noted that the rapid growth in global “wellness tourism” would provide the industry with an additional boost in the coming years.

Certainly, as the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Japan jumped from 3.3 million in 1995 to 31.9 million in 2019, the country’s hot springs have also seen a proportional rise in the number of foreign visitors.

That was, of course, before Covid-19 struck. To say that the Japanese tourism market has been derailed is an understatement.

After the country closed its borders to foreign visitors and residents alike to contain the spread of the epidemic, Japan is set to lose $1.9 billion and face declines amounting to 80% in overall tourist traffic.

The “Go To Travel” campaign, the Japanese government’s latest effort to revive domestic tourism through subsidies for travelers, has faced concerns over its potential hastening of the virus’ spread, and the last-minute exclusion of Tokyo, the country’s wealthiest and most populous prefecture, from the program.

Hot springs are expected to face a disproportionate decline as Covid-19 lays waste to the Japanese tourism industry.

Not only are the signature communal baths that define hot-spring resorts completely inadequate in the age of “social distancing,” but cautious tourists are also keen to avoid the process of getting to remote hot-spring towns, densely built up with inns and hotels amidst narrow streets, often reachable only through normally packed trains and buses.

News source: asiatimes.com
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