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《经济学人》日本豪华酒店稀少,但愈发有利可图

2019 年 12 月 16 日 • 经济学人,商业

本期经济学人杂志【商业】板块下这篇题为《Posh hotels are scarce in Japan—and increasingly lucrative》的文章关注的是日本豪华酒店的数量很少,满足不了日益增多的入境游客的需求,现在开建的酒店 2020 年东京奥运会举办时来不及完工。由于豪华酒店稀少,价格飞涨,投资豪华酒店越发有利可图。

The Economist, December 14th-20th 2019.

像大仓酒店 (Hotels Okuro) 这样的日本豪华酒店越发流行的一个原因是在可选择的豪华酒店不多。日本的五星级酒店数量差不多和越南一样多,少于伦敦或巴黎。虽然完工时间赶不上 2020 年东京奥运会,但日本政府出台减税和低息贷款,帮助建造 50 个世界级酒店。

过去几十年日本政府推动工业发展,随着发展起来的酒店主要面向普通白领阶层。日本的房地产市场由房地产开发商主导,市中心的好地段都握在它们手中。日本的遗产税很高,相比其他富裕国家,日本的超级富翁不多,很少有人热衷于建造和经营豪华酒店。

近年来赴日游客不断增加,原因之一可能是廉价的日元。2018 年赴日游客数达到了 3100 万人次,是 2011 年的五倍。豪华酒店数量稀少,因此价格飞涨,投资豪华酒店变得越发有利可图。

9 月,大仓酒店刚完成了 10 亿美元的翻新改造,这其中还包括新建一座新的优美的 41 层大楼,从大楼上可以远远望见富士山。

Posh hotels are scarce in Japan—and increasingly lucrative

Room to grow

Posh hotels are scarce in Japan—and increasingly lucrative

Japan’s hot hoteliers

WITH ITS cool modernist interiors and views of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, Hotel Okura has been the choice of the well-heeled since its gilded lobby was unveiled in 1962 as a symbol of Japan’s emergence from post-war austerity. Taro Aso, the deputy prime minister, enjoys a late-night tipple at the bar. Yoko Ono takes a suite on her trips to the city. Every American president from Gerald Ford on, has graced its rooms. Donald Trump may well have done, too, had the Okura not been shut for refurbishment when he visited Japan in May.

One reason for the Okura’s popularity is the lack of alternatives. Japan has roughly the same number of five-star hotels as Vietnam, and fewer than London or Paris. The Okura has stopped taking bookings for next summer’s Olympics for want of rooms, many of which have been earmarked for organisers. The dearth of high-end accommodation has the government considering tax breaks and cheap loans to help build 50 “world-class” hotels—though not in time for the Tokyo games.

Japan came late to mass tourism, points out Koki Hara, a real-estate lawyer. For decades the government pushed industrial growth, so the country’s cities filled up with drab business hotels that catered to armies of salarymen. Property developers dominated the real-estate market and clung to most of the prime city-centre spots. High inheritance taxes mean Japan has fewer moguls than other rich places, hence fewer people who might be keen to build and run posh hotels.

A leap in tourist numbers has exposed the problem. Lured by the cheaper yen, 31m people visited Japan last year, a fivefold rise since 2011. Next year 40m foreign visitors are expected, including 10m just for the Olympics. By 2030 demand for accommodation from foreigners will roughly double, estimates CBRE, a consultancy. A lot of them will be well-off.

Hotels used to be a bad business, but not any more, says Yutaka Kawamura of Mitsui Fudosan, Japan’s biggest property developer. Hotels in central Tokyo are well-performing assets in the property market, with annual yields of around 3%, according to CBRE. Prices at posh hotels have shot up. Some have enjoyed unimaginably luxuriant margins, says Sam Sakamura, vice-president of Hyatt Hotels in Japan.

This has drawn in more developers. Property companies are erecting hotels on the sites of old office buildings, fewer of which will be needed as Japan’s workforce ages and shrinks. Franchise agreements with foreign brands, once rare, are becoming common. Mitsui Fudosan is expanding its portfolio in collaborations with Four Seasons, Bulgari and Mandarin Oriental. Hyatt will open four luxury hotels by next year. And in September the Okura completed its $1bn renovation, including an elegant new 41-storey building with views of distant Mount Fuji. ■

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline "Room to grow"

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