The Covid-19 pandemic and the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have dealt a double blow to Japan’s hotels. Many are grappling with low occupancies despite rate discounting to attract local customers to rooms that would normally be occupied by international tourists.
Amid such trying times, Hoshino Resorts, which manages 42 hotels, onsens and resorts, has recognised the plight of a group of Japanese workers who are among the hardest hit by the loss of international tourists: local artisans and farmers whose sales have slumped because of low demand from hotel properties across Japan.
To keep spirts high among local communities, Hoshino hotels and resorts have organised firework displays and Japanese art exhibitions to replace those cancelled due to Covid-19.
Oirase Keiryu Hotel, a Hoshino property located in Towada, Aomori Prefecture, hired a local bus company to run open-top bus tours along roads bordering mountain streams to allow locked-down residents “to enjoy the breeze”.
Other initiatives include the use of surplus milk to make milk jam, which can be stored for long periods. Save the Farm Milk Jam Frappe is sold at three Risonare properties (Nasu, Atami, Yatsugatake), while Save the Farm Milk Jam Shaved Ice is sold at three KAI properties (Kawaji, Kinugawa, Nikko), using milk that would otherwise have been thrown away because of lack of demand from hotels and restaurants.
Hoshino hotel staff have also been out in the fields harvesting vegetables which would normally be picked by overseas foreign workers, currently kept out of Japan by Covid-19 restrictions.
Vegetables are stored and used in dishes prepared at Hoshino hotel restaurants and also sold over the counter to help farmers.
Hoshino Resorts CEO Yoshiharu Hoshino said the hotel group has always been supported by local communities, and it was time to return the support.
“During this pandemic, we needed to work closely with local communities to overcome difficulties together,” he said.
Hoshino Resorts has also established the Hotel Ryokan Fund to support Japanese hotels and ryokans during Covid-19 and prepare them for recovery when the time is right.
The fund hopes to attract investment of more than US$100 million to acquire up to 10 struggling hotel and ryokan operations and on-sell them within 3-5 years.
Hoshino’s brands include Hoshinoya, KAI, Risonare and Omo.