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Traditional Japanese inn goes bankrupt after China gov't banned tour groups over virus

The Fujimisou "ryokan" inn, which has been forced to close down due to the effects of the Chinese government's containment measures against the new coronavirus, is seen in Gamagori, Aichi Prefecture, on Feb. 25, 2020. (Mainichi/Makoto Ishizuka)

NAGOYA -- A long-established inn at a popular hot spring resort in the central Japan prefecture of Aichi has been forced to close its doors for good after continued cancellations from Chinese customers amid the spread of the new coronavirus sent its finances into a spiral, Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd. announced on Feb. 25.

Fujimisou, a traditional Japanese "ryokan" inn based in the Nishiura Onsen resort in the prefectural city of Gamagori, is reported to have begun bankruptcy proceedings at the Toyohashi branch of the Nagoya District Court. Its total liabilities are said to be under investigation.

The unfortunate fate of the Fujimisou inn highlights the continued effect that the Chinese government's travel ban on group tours abroad is having on Japan's tourism industry.

According to Tokyo Shoko Research, Fujimisou was established in 1956. As a ryokan offering fine views of Mikawa Bay and opportunities to dine on fresh seafood, it saw sales in the period of December 2005 of around 550 million yen.

In recent years it had seen demand rise in Chinese tour groups and poured its energy into catering toward them. But with the Chinese government's move to forbid its citizens from traveling in such groups abroad, the future prospects for Fujimisou became uncertain, and the discontinuation of the business was reportedly accepted.

The inn's CEO Go Ito, 31, said, "It's a precious ryokan that my forefathers kept going up until now, but with no customers there's nothing we can do."

Some years ago, the inn set its sights on business from Chinese tour groups, and inked a deal with a Chinese company to receive the visitors. Each month it would receive around between 40 and 50 groups. Its 40 rooms were almost always packed out exclusively with Chinese guests.

The effects on Fujimisou from the new coronavirus were first felt immediately after infections were being confirmed, with the number of Chinese visitors steadily waning. The Chinese government then banned its citizens from tour group travel on Jan. 27. Ito closed the inn on Feb. 14, saying, "I resolved myself to it, knowing that we had no other option but to decide (to close Fujimisou) based on the Chinese government's policies.

(Japanese original by Masashi Taguchi, Nagoya News Center)

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