Earthquakes deal a stunning blow to the recovery of tourism in Japan
The earthquake and aftershocks that struck Japan's west coast on New Year's Day have dealt a devastating blow to the slow recovery of tourism in the seaside city of Wajima. Among the flattened buildings and twisted roads, one of the most visibly damaged sites is the Koshuen Hotel.
Among its employees who now face an uncertain future is Chef Makoto Wakabayashi. The 62-year-old said, "It's absolutely bad. Parts of the walls have fallen off, the ceilings have dropped. I think it will take six months to completely renovate all the rooms," as reported by O.Canada.
According to him, tourism had just begun to recover from the pandemic crisis when the 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit, claiming more than 100 lives. This hotel was one of the largest accommodation facilities in the city, featuring thermal baths overlooking the ocean.
Nationally, tourism was a beacon last year as the weak yen and relaxed COVID-19 restrictions enticed thousands of foreigners to visit Japan. Arrivals in October exceeded 2019 levels for the first time since the pandemic wreaked havoc on international travel markets.
Wajima, about 450 kilometers northwest of Tokyo, is home to a century-old market that now lies in ruins after an earthquake-induced fire.