The news that travel restrictions for Japan are being lifted on 11th of October has drawn excitement from travellers and those who host them. Visitors are no longer obliged to be part of a fully escorted tour, meaning a welcome return to independent travel.
The entry cap has also been lifted, so physically reaching Japan is more straightforward thanks to the steady increase in international flights.
Buoyant domestic market
Despite the restrictions on foreign travel, Niseko has continued to attract domestic visitors. Figures from C9 Hotelworks Niseko Tourism and Property Market Review show demand for rooms increased by 21% in Q1 of 2022 and land price growth has increased by 12% compared to 2021.
Naturally, there is a little way to go before this growth returns to pre-pandemic levels, but the presence of a keen domestic market has helped maintain a level of service and facilities. This means ski resorts aren’t in a position of starting from scratch to welcome overseas visitors, a process that has been assisted by the stepped return to fully independent travel.
Steady return of the foreign travel market
The overseas market has been eager to return to Japan since travel edged its way back into our collective psyche. Visitors to Niseko in Q1 of 2022 comprised 44% foreign nationals, made up of visitors from Australia, the UK, the USA and Taiwan. Flights are also returning, with more routes being added to carriers from Singapore and Taipei, as well as European, US and antipodean routes.
It’s worth noting that the Shinkansen is on schedule for 2024 completion, adding another strand to the super fast domestic travel Japan is so known for.
This increase in overseas visitors correlates with an uptick in demand for overnight stays: up by 21% in Q1 of 2022, compared with the same period in 2021. The largest area of growth is currently in the resort-style developments, where people enjoy the comfort of their own apartment, alongside hotel-style facilities.
This may change of course, now that restrictions on fully independent travel have been lifted and we may see an increased desire for stand alone villas and townhouses.
Dual season popularity
Dual season resorts are one of the key “must haves” for any investor and Niseko has shown a steady ability to attract visitors all year round. Skiing is the stuff of legend, of course, but those in the know flock to Hokkaido to enjoy magnificent summer flowers, and the wonders of Sakura in late spring.
Golfers flock to glorious courses and there is a steady influx of school and study groups too. Niseko has a sound infrastructure and a loyal fan base who are eager to return to enjoy its charm and character, as well as the outstanding ski fields.
While some projects have had to be put on hold, the development scene is by no means stagnant. Almost 300 units are expected to open by the end of 2022, with healthy projections going forward.
The average sales price has also risen, to JPY 2,008,463 per square metre (interior area_. This is an increase on 2020 prices, and level with 2021 averages.
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