Published on : Thursday, March 14, 2019
Osaka, the “second city” of Japan is winning the race against Tokyo to attract international tourists. However, after a boom, its retailers and property developers are resorting to shifting tourism spending patterns.
Between 2012 and 2017, inbound tourism to Osaka increased five-fold, faster than visits to Tokyo, as the city attracted low-cost carriers and advertised itself as a base to visit the 25 World Heritage sites in adjacent Kyoto and Nara.
At first, developers and retailers scrambled to put up new hotels, develop floor space, and set up cashless payment systems like AliPay and WeChat to counterbalance the unexpected flood of big-spending Chinese tourists, majorly.
However, tourism is getting into a new phase altogether, where instead of loading up on luxury brands, visitors are keen to spend more on makeup consulting, maternity goods, and other cheaper items and services.
Businesses anticipate that to become the norm – and to give a long standing boost up to the economy of the Kansai region around Osaka as the city gears up to build a large casino resort.
“Osaka was running at full speed on tourism, but now we’re moving to a more sustainable pace of growth,” said Takeshi Yamaguchi, associate director of research at real estate consulting firm CBRE in Osaka.
“Compared to Tokyo, Osaka is positioned for longer and more sustainable growth in development and tourism because of things like the integrated resort,” Yamaguchi added.
The success of Osaka, long outshined by Tokyo and dismissed as gritty and chaotic, has made analysts quite shocked.
The compact layout of the city and it food have become a hit with Asian tourists. It has created new opportunities for start-ups, social media marketing consultants and foreign property developers.