Aerial view of Tokyo. (Image via Culture Trip)

How Summer Olympics spectator ban hits tourism industry?

The Summer Olympics in Japan was supposed to be a revitalization for the business sector in the country. However, as the Japanese Government decided to bar overseas spectator from the major sports event, now those working in the tourism sector is counting their losses.

While the experts said that the impact would not be that huge since the tourism sector might see the silver lining as life is returning to normal, the tourism sector was hugely disappointed by the pandemic, especially after a huge uptick during 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

During the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Japan received 31.9 million foreign visitors. As the world's third-largest economy is being chosen as the host for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the Japanese Government targeted 40 million foreign tourists. Nonetheless, everything evaporated as the Japanese Government imposed stricter border rules, restricting foreign tourists, and the Summer Olympics was pushed back to 2021.

For example, an owner of a traditional Japanese inn, Toshiko Ishii, had spent about 18 million in renovation to anticipate a flood of tourists for the Summer Olympics. She doubled the inn's restaurant and even upgraded the decor and kitchen. However, as the overseas spectators are not coming, Ishii could not help but feel blue. While struggling to remain adamant for her business, Ishii remains hopeless as the foreign visitor might only return at least in September.

Currently, Ishii had to depend on public loans, and the bleak future of the tourism sector is doing nothing to improve her anxiety about her finances. Yet, Ishii remains optimistic. Taking her attention away from the inn, she is learning recipes and even sharing them with her regular customers, domestic and abroad.

Besides Ishii, a manager at Tokyo Rickshaw in the Asakusa District, Yui Oikawa, actually hoped that the Summer Olympics in July would hail customers and tourists from around the world. Oikawa stated that the company still complies with the COVID-19 preventive measures still and has turned their attention to work on their customer pitches and discovering the area.

Previously, the organizers aimed to sell more than 630,000 tickets outside Japan. The Japanese Government even hoped to bring at least 600,000 foreign visitors. However, the potential boost from the foreign Olympic spectators is often overestimated. 

While the decision to limit domestic spectators is being considered, the crowd and foreign spectators' restrictions might blow 200 billion yen away. Even though it is not as big as to destroy Japan's economy, it is still a huge economic loss.

Currently, Japan is looking for a solution to grow, depending on exports and even stimulus. Unfortunately, the tourism drought might go on, even after the state of emergency against the COVID-19 pandemic had ceased. Japan had seen its domestic travel went up in the Q2 of 2020 thanks to the "Go To" travel subsidy program. Yet, the program ended in December as the COVID-19 infection rose.

Meanwhile, the poll showed that the majority of the Japanese people are looking forward to the foreign spectator ban. Therefore, the experts suggested that Japan should increase its consumption.