A recent report by STR on Japan’s hotel market shows impressive growth in revenue per available room (RevPAR) over the past 15 months amidst above-average inflation and an influx of international demand following its later reopening post-pandemic.

While occupancy growth has trailed off, with single-digit increases or declines year over year for the past five months, rates have grown more than 20% year over year for each of the past 19 months, with no signs of deceleration.

STRL “Japan has had a real run of strong rate growth.”

“Even as the ADR index continues to climb, the occupancy index has languished at around -10% for the past six quarters, suggesting that present-day occupancy levels are the new baseline for Japan,” STR says.

“Occupancy growth has largely stabilized across all days of the week, further supporting this theory. Weekends are slightly weaker – befitting the end of revenge travel – but there’s not significant variance in growth levels between days of the week.

“In other words, there’s no lopsided or single demand driver propelling the industry and putting future demand growth at risk.”

ADR growth is stabilised, although much stronger and with less deceleration in growth.

“Historically, pricing power in Japan has correlated with high actual occupancy levels. With present levels still 10% below their historic average, the extreme ADR growth stands out,” STR said.

STR: “While rate has flown, occ recovery stalled in late 2022.”

With costs rising, hoteliers are “to some extent forced” to raise room rates and increase revenue.

The exchange rate is also having an impact, STR says.

“The Japanese yen depreciated rapidly beginning in early 2022, with value relative to USD falling 26% between January 2022 and April 2024.

“While initial spikes in ADR growth coincided with true pandemic recovery, for the past year or so the lift has largely been impacted by the depreciating yen.

“Depreciation started in early 2022, and Japan reopened borders to international tourists late the same year.

“With the value of the yen declining, international arrivals found Japanese hotel rates significantly less expensive than locals, and the strong demand from inbound international travel helped increase pricing power.”

While China, a major historic Japanese source market, is yet to make a significant return, Japan has more than offset that loss with long-haul US, western Europe, and Australian travellers, who benefit from the yen’s depreciation and typically book longer stays.

However, international arrivals don’t spread equally throughout Japan.

“Markets highly reliant on international inbound demand – Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto – report incredibly strong rate growth and decent occupancy growth. More domestically driven markets, like Kansai (excluding Osaka and Kyoto) and Tohoku, are actually losing occupancy and barely driving rate at all,” STR says.

“For the domestic markets, the story is straightforward: Even with limited growth year to date, hotel rates across the country are running 20-30% ahead of pre-pandemic levels. Domestic travelers are simply getting priced out.

“Future rate growth in Japan depends on how the Bank of Japan handles the continued yen depreciation, and if/whether the government can help stimulate domestic demand, through travel subsidies or other measures.”