Tourism increase drives Japan Airbnb backlash


Last year, Japan drew some 19.7 million visitors, up 47 percent from a year earlier, pushing hotel occupancy rates to the limit and shining a spotlight on Tokyo's lack of accommodation.

The country’s increase in tourism is sparking an all-too-familiar conflict: that of traditional hoteliers vs. Airbnb hosts. With visitors opting to stay in residential neighborhoods rather than commercial hubs, locals and citizens are cashing in.

As such, AFP is reporting that government officials are enforcing a ban on renting rooms in private homes. The decision is, understandably, unpopular with the hosts who earned income through the home-sharing service, but industry insiders in Japan believe the ban is fair as hotels must meet certain standards that Airbnb rooms are not obligated to match.

“If ryokans (traditional inns) and hotels operate under the same regulations (as Airbnb hosts) and then we lose, I could accept it,” Japan Ryokan & Hotel Association chairman Satoru Haritani said. “But if one industry is regulated and the other is not, and we have to compete under different rules, then that kind of situation would be nothing but unfair.”

Still, the government is considering compromises, and is considering allowing private homeowners in residential areas to rent out their space for up to 180 days a year.

Still, with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games just years away, Japan is facing a dearth of available rooms. As such, the country may soon reconsider its position on Airbnb.