The recent ULI Japan Spring Conference in Tokyo was told that inbound tourism is booming and the market is developing rapidly to cope. Japan welcomed just under 20 million visitors last year and is looking to double that by 2020, for the Summer Olympics.

Adopting the sharing economy might help to ease the strain on existing hospitality options, but due to licensing requirements, 99% of Airbnb apartment owners in Japan are technically breaking existing laws.

Martin Fluck, director of operations, North Asia, for Oakwood Pacific, does not see Airbnb as a competitor but as complementary, and eyes a new market for serviced-apartment operators in “bleisure” travelers, increasing demand for larger rooms that can accommodate a family when tagging leisure time at the end of a business trip.

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