Wakayama prefecture has announced its implementation policy for an integrated resort bid.
According to the policy, the point of an IR in the prefecture is to become a pillar of regional revitalization, requiring, “an IR from which significant economic and employment effects can be expected and that can attract customers from within Japan in order to further develop the prefecture.”
The proposed concept remains a resort with a focus on sports and wellness. The policy calls on operators to take advantage of the waterfront location, hot springs, food culture and other local resources Wakayama is known for and create a sea resort that maximizes these strengths. The idea is to provide a relaxing experience with nature-oriented attractions that can’t be found in the city.
The prefecture also hopes to become a new travel gateway for the Kansai area in an effort to contribute to the national government’s goal of 60 million foreign tourists to Japan, tourist consumption of JPY15 trillion, and 130 million overnight stays by 2030.
Wakayama’s candidate area is 23.61 hectares in Marina City of Kemi, Wakayama City, with an initial operation period of 40 years. While the local government is requesting creative, private sector concepts for the design, it must also harmonize with the Japan heritage site, Wakayama-no-Ura, and the building must be symbolic and advanced.
Other requirements include MICE facilities, facilities that add value, customer PR and concierge services, at least 100,000 square meters of accommodation and a casino comprising no more than 3% of the entire IR floor area.
Regarding countermeasures for problem gambling, the policy also mentions strategies for eliminating harmful influences, for example hiring an addiction expert, introduction of an IR card system, the inclusion of police facilities and increasing the number of police officers to prevent crime and maintain a “good and safe” entertainment environment.
The central government announced its national Basic Policy on IRs on 18 December. Wakayama city and the prefectural Public Safety Commission subsequently held a joint session to decide on the local Implementation Policy. The next step for the region will be a priority candidate selection in Spring. The prefecture will apply for regional certification by 28 April of next year, with a goal of opening an IR property in 2026.
At this stage, Hong Kong’s Suncity Group and Canadian investment firm Clairvest are the only two confirmed candidates.