The Deputy Mayor of Yokohama, Toshihide Hirahara, believes an integrated resort is necessary if Yokohama is to increase tourism and raise much-needed taxes for the benefit of the city.
His comments were made during a speech at the 1st IR Expo in Yokohama on Wednesday, with the Deputy Mayor expressing his IR views despite the best efforts of an anti-casino protestor to interrupt.
“The rate of growth in the number of foreign visitors to our area is low when we consider the national rate, and 80% of trips are day trips,” he said.
“There is a decrease in the population and a decrease in collected taxes – JPY 2.5 trillion (US$23 billion) is required to repair roads managed by the city, to rebuild elementary and junior high schools and for disaster countermeasures.”
According to Hirahara, a Yokohama IR provides solutions to many of those problems. With Mayor Fumiko Hayashi confirming Yokohama would bid for an IR last August, the candidate site remains 47 hectares of Yamashita Wharf with estimates of up to 40 million annual visitors an IR and an economic ripple effect of JPY 650 billion (US$6 billion) to 1.2 trillion (US$11 billion) at the time of building.
“Of course the property must lead to economic activity,” Hirahara added. “Operators have brought us proposals for resorts that are enjoyable to all, developed so that [visitors] venture out to the city.”