Coronavirus feels like it’s in the tail end and Niseko – the beautiful, self-proclaimed “St. Moritz of Japan” – stands as one of the world’s most visited destinations for skiing. Best known for its breathtaking powder snow – or Japow – the destination spot was once filled to the brim with energized tourists, all teeming to reach the slope of the town’s infamous frosty mountains. Though, as the pandemic continues to put a hole in the world’s vacation time, Nikeso looks more like a ghost town. All that is soon to change as town’s tourism operators are hopeful for a massive comeback.
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In November, as the average of daily Covid-19 cases in the county rose at alarming rates, the Japanese government put a temporary hold on its Go To Travel campaign. The initiative’s primary object was to encourage domestic tourism. With it halted, the market suffered the bane of empty lobbies and plummeting profits across the board.
The decision to put the campaign on hold devastated Michael Chen, co-CEO of the H2 Group.. Partnered with Simon Robinson, Chen’s organization “owns and manages more than 150 luxury properties in and around Niseko,” according to the South Asian Morning Post. Willing to wait out the dry summer season of quarantine, Chen was hopeful things would return to normal in the new year. As winter brought the town’s best snow for skiing in decades, borders remained closed. Still, Chen kept faith and steadfast confidence.
“I’m very confident about the future of Niseko and Hokkaido in general as a destination and this pause has actually given us an opportunity to better assess what is needed,” the businessman tells the South Asian Morning Post. “And to grow into a leader in the development of the property business here.”
Chen’s confidence surely comes from the luxury hotels accommodated by the H2 group to the traveling elite – Hakuvillas.
The only hotel in all of Niseko to provide the six star experience, the company pampers its wealthy guests with personal chefs and butler, 24 hour access to a masseuse and even helicopter transportation! All this comes at the mind blowing price of 3 million yen a night (equivalent to $27,700).
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With the ongoing progress of dealing out vaccines, the higher ups of tourism wait patiently for borders to lift. There’s a sea of cabin sick travelers just waiting for the green light to book their flights and explore. Chen hopes that someday soon, Niseko will return to seeing hundreds of happy skiers sliding down those pearly mountains.
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Sources: Kyodo News, Hakuvillas, South Asian Morning Post
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