Tourists disappear from the Noboribetsu and Toyako Onsen hot-spring resorts
Accommodation and tourist facilities in the leading central Hokkaido hot-spring resorts of Noboribetsu and Toyako Onsen continue to close in response to the declaration of a state of emergency, issued as a result of the spread of infections from the Covid-19 virus. The Hokkaido government has not issued requests for businesses to suspend their operations but those concerned are disheartened, saying “If a state of emergency is declared, the number of customers decreases so we’re compelled to close”.
According to the Noboribetsu International Tourism and Convention Association, the period of closure differs according to each facility but, of the 18 accommodation facilities located in the Noboribetsu and nearby Karurusu Onsen hot-spring resorts, 10 have decided to close for a period of between several days and several weeks.
Noboribetsu Onsen Ryokan & Hotel Association president claims “If a state of emergency is declared, various discounts and assistance cannot be utilized, so the reservation situation gets worse. We are now looking at whether or not the declaration will be extended. If they decide to extent the period, we hope they do it as early as possible.”
It is not just the accommodation facilities; there is also a conspicuous number of souvenir shops, bars and restaurants that have shortened opening hours or suspended their business, and people are seldom seen at the resorts. The Noboribetsu Bear Park, Marine Park Nixe aquarium, and Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura, a tourist facility modeled on streetscapes from the Edo period – all of which are located in the city of Noboribetsu – remained closed until May 31.
Meanwhile, according to the Toyako Onsen Tourist Association, accommodation facilities closed in the Toyako Onsen resort include the Toyako Onsen Hotel Hanabi and Toya Kohantei. Other facilities are also said to be closing intermittently in response to the status regarding usage.
As well as public tourist facilities like the Toyako Visitor Center/Volcano Science Museum, other facilities such as the Toyako Kisen pleasure boat, Usuzan Ropeway and Showa Shinzan Bear Ranch also closed until the 31st. The Toyako Onsen Tourist Association says “It’s difficult as we cannot ask tourists to visit under these circumstances but when the situation improves we hope to take measures to encourage consumer spending.”
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