Tourism in the former imperial capital of Japan fell 88% in 2020. The deficit for the current year hovers around 440 million dollars. While the mayor tries to avoid Connecticut bankruptcy with a restructuring plan, some consider him not ambitious enough.
Kyoto (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The city of Kyoto is awaiting the return of tourists to get back on its feet financially.
The prolonged decline in tourism, down 88% in 2020 from 2019, is weighing heavily on the finances of the former imperial capital of Japan.
The situation is such that Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa warns that his city faces the “prospect of Connecticut bankruptcy within a decade”.
As The world Specifically, the deficit for the fiscal year ending March 2022 is expected to be around 50 billion yen (roughly $ 440 million), which will add to the 860 billion yen ($ 7.5 billion) in accumulated debt. .
If the trend continues, annual losses could reach 260 billion yen ($ 2.3 billion) by 2025.
Right now, hotel bookings aren’t even a third compared to 2019, and this winter doesn’t look promising.
To make matters worse, the government postponed its “Go to Travel” subsidy program, currently under review, to February 2022, “to be safer from a health point of view,” to quote Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
What is more, foreign visitors, including international students, are always denied access to the country.
The Kyoto mayor’s plan to restructure the city’s finances includes cutting 550 jobs by 2025 and cutting social assistance. This would save 160 billion yen ($ 1.4 billion) and prevent the central government from taking over the city like other municipalities.
Other problems remain. The municipality has not yet paid for one of the city’s two metro lines built in 1997, whose ridership is well below expectations.
The city’s tax base is limited as 40 percent of the population is made up of students or people over 65 who pay virtually no taxes.
Temples and shrines are also exempt from property tax, while machiya, traditional wooden townhouses (on the picture), benefit from lower taxes.
Critics say Kyoto should ease building legislation that bans the construction of buildings over 31 meters high, a height that drops to 15 meters in the historic center.
The “area around Kyoto station could be a place to develop and attract new business investment,” said Risa Emura, member of Kyoto City Council.
“A big problem is that a lot of young people want to work in Kyoto, but they can’t find a good job or a good career here. They are therefore forced to move elsewhere to look for work, ”added Emura.