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Robots worming their way into Japanese service sector

Tour company H.I.S. to launch advisory business

Robots greet guests at the Henn-na Hotel in the H.I.S. group's Huis Ten Bosch theme park.

TOKYO -- A growing number of service-sector businesses in Japan are opening up to the idea of using robots to cope with worker shortages and boost productivity, and major tour company H.I.S. has formed a unit to tap the developing trend.

The Tokyo-based company has established "hapi-robo st" as a subsidiary of Huis Ten Bosch, operator of the namesake theme park in Nagasaki Prefecture. Making the most of know-how accumulated at the semi-automated Henn-na Hotel, at the theme park, the new unit will advise both robot manufacturers and potential users looking to raise productivity via automation. The hotel has reduced its staff from about 30 to just eight by using robots at reception desks and as porters.

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