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Sharing Economy

Despite Airbnb's cancellations, most tourists would visit Japan

Twitter poll shows 80% seek alternative rooms but 20% plan to avoid country

College students from Taiwan stay at an Airbnb home in Tokyo. The company said 5.85 million guests used its platform in Japan last year.

TOKYO -- Japan's legalization of home-sharing is off to a rocky start, but few consumers seem to be put off by the move, according to the early results of an ongoing Nikkei Asian Review social media survey.

Internet users were asked for their reaction to the law and Airbnb's removal of 80% of its Japanese listings. About 80% of respondents said they intend to stay in legal accommodation in Japan -- either at hotels or homes that have been registered with authorities. On the other hand, around 20% said they would avoid Japan or cancel their trips.

The survey asked how the respondents would act if they were visiting Japan soon. Fifty-seven percent said they would stay in a hotel, while 22% said they would "use legal home-sharing."

Some commenters sympathized with the legislation, which kicks in on Friday.

"Support this law," one person wrote. "Don't let your cities become like Paris, Venezia or Barcelona, amusement parks for tourists where locals can't afford to live anymore!"

Another wrote: "The national laws are not that onerous, as a consumer at least."

Still, not everyone was on board. Twelve percent of respondents said they would "go to another country," while 9% would "cancel their trip."

"I think this [law] will severely limit the trips I can do in the future," wrote one person who professed to be a regular Airbnb user living in Japan.

An American living in London, who visits Japan more than once every two months, said he was also considering whether to make fewer trips after his Airbnb booking was abruptly canceled. One comment speculated that "the government would much rather promote official hotels and ryokan" inns than home-sharing services.

According to Airbnb, 5.85 million guests used the company's service in Japan in 2017. This includes both Japanese and international visitors, but it is still a high figure considering 28.7 million foreign travelers came to the country that year.

Tokyo was the platform's most-booked city, with Osaka in third place, highlighting the impact home-sharing services have already had on Japanese tourism.

When looking at guests by origin, visitors from Singapore were the most avid users of Airbnb in Japan, with 58% of travelers from the city-state using the service. That ratio was followed by 54% for Australia, 46% for France and 37% for Malaysia.

That said, Airbnb was little used among visitors from the top three places of origin: 13% for China, 16% for South Korea and 10% for Taiwan.

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