Japan to prepare major transformation in tourism industry

newsonjapan.com -- Sep 25

Japan is gearing up for a major transformation in the tourism industry, set to open its first integrated resorts (IRs) in 2030.

These IRs are poised to attract millions of global visitors, which can substantially impact the economy and society.

The IRs are a highly anticipated development, with the projected economic benefit of ¥1.1 trillion annually and 93,000 jobs created. Osaka city and prefecture could see an intake of ¥106 billion from annual taxes and other business revenues.

The journey of developing Japan's integrated resorts has been long and complex. It began in 2013 when the Japanese government first proposed the idea of legalizing casinos.

After years of debate, the Integrated Resorts Promotion Act was passed in 2018. This act legalized casinos in Japan and established the framework for IR development. Several locations, such as Hokkaido, Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Wakayama, and Nagasaki, were mentioned as potential sites.

In 2019, the Japanese government announced Osaka and Nagasaki were selected to host the country's first IRs. A consortium led by MGM Resorts International and Orix Corporation is developing the Osaka IR. Meanwhile, a consortium led by Casinos Austria International and Nagasaki Prefecture consortium is working on the Nagasaki IR.

Both IRs are currently in the planning stages. The construction is expected to begin in the next few years. Officials in Osaka said the earliest they could open is in the autumn of 2030. This delay also means an increased initial investment cost of ¥1.27 trillion.

One reason for the delay was the time it took for the government to approve the plans. However, the Nagasaki IR is expected to be completed in 2031 with an initial investment cost of ¥438.3 billion.

The plan and benefits for Japan

The Japan's IR plans are extensive. Each IR will feature a casino, hotel, convention center, and various entertainment and retail spots. This would set a precedent for other Japan casinos.

The Osaka resort complex will be located on Yumeshima, a reclaimed island in Osaka Bay. The resort will have a casino, hotels, a conference center, shopping malls, a museum, and a ferry terminal. High-rollers will have access to a helicopter pad.

Meanwhile, the Nagasaki IR will be developed at Huis Ten Bosch theme park. The resort will have a casino boasting 3,000 electronic gambling machines and 400 table games. Four hotels will have about 2,500 rooms, while the convention center can accommodate up to 6,000 people.

A shopping mall, golf course, and various dining spots will complete the scene.

The IRs are expected to boost the local economy by drawing domestic and international visitors. For instance, Osaka's resort is projected to bring in ¥1.14 trillion annually by drawing around 20 million visitors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the development of Japan's IRs. It caused construction delays and led to a decline in tourism. However, the government is still committed to developing the IRs. It asserts that IRs will play an important role in the country's post-pandemic economic recovery.