Domestic Market Not To Be Ignored

Creating a uniquely Japanese IR product is essential for success in the market, but operators must not ignore the needs of the domestic market, which will be an equally important component of visitation, said a panel of experts.

The panel of speakers were discussing the localization of Japanese IRs and the incorporation of entertainment offerings during the first morning of the Japan Gaming Congress, held at the Conrad Hotel in Tokyo.

“We need to cater to [both markets]” said Morgan Stanley Managing Director Praveen Choudhary, who added that there will likely be a focus on mass and premium mass.

Kotaro Takada, board member of Huis Ten Bosch said that his resort in Sasebo draws mainly from the domestic market, with only 10 percent of visitors coming from outside of Japan.

Takada said he expects the introduction of IRs to increase overseas visitation by two-fold.

There was, however, concern that the government would be shy about the idea of IRs attracting local Japanese visitors. Currently proposed entry limitations are a testament to this.

“There may be an unwritten rule about not being allowed to focus [marketing to] local customers as they do in Singapore,” said Fred Gushin of Spectrum Gaming Group.

“Japanese spending in local casinos will only distribute wealth, whereas inbound tourists will bring in wealth from overseas,” noted Tadayuki Hara, an associate professor from the University of Central Florida, during the panel.

“The Japanese government wants to get back their export revenue. They will want to emphasize inbound tourism,” he added.

Felix Rappaport, SVP and COO of Foxwood Resorts Casino, however, said that not catering to the domestic market would be a missed opportunity, and lessons could be learned from the Las Vegas model.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, the deputy chief cabinet secretary, in his address, gave some remarks as to what the government is looking for in the future IRs.

“There are more than 28 million inbound foreign tourists annually. We want to provide healthy evening entertainment as well as various types of Japanese unique entertainment. We want to provide content that are enjoyable not only for inbound guests, but also local guests… We also want our shopping centers, hotels, and other related facilities, as well as large exhibition halls and conference facilities to catch up to the level of other countries. Nowadays there aren’t enough venues for musical events, so we also hope such musical event venues can also be developed. We’d like to show a new side of Japan to the world through this,” he said. (AGB Nippon)