With an event in Tokyo on the 7th and another in Nagasaki on the 14th, the RFI process is now underway for the Huis Ten Bosch theme park site in the prefecture’s Sasebo city.
There are now two Japanese local governments that have moved into this phase, the first being Tomakomai, Hokkaido, which launched its own RFI process in July and wrapped it up in September.
In the Tokyo session explaining Nagasaki’s RFI process, a total of 50 companies sent representatives, including 11 IR operators. For the on-site session in Sasebo, a total of 26 companies participated, including two of the IR operators that were also present at the Tokyo session.
The local government has employed advisory firm Deloitte Tohmatsu since around the end of September to help it conduct its RFI process and to compile the local “IR Master Plan” before the end of March 2018.
Earlier this month, the Clairvest Group of Canada became the first international IR operator to open an office in Sasebo, signaling that they are among the most interested parties.
The local government envisions an IR that will build upon the success of the Huis Ten Bosch theme park, which is already the leading tourist attraction of the southern island of Kyushu. The conversion to an IR would likely be a relatively small development involving a roughly US$500 million investment in creating a casino hotel on the seafront, where the 27,000 square meter Rotterdam Parking Lot of the Huis Ten Bosch facility is currently located.
The primary motive of the local authorities is to boost tourism to the Kyushu region and to provide quality employment for local young people, who are currently tending to drain out of the prefecture to seek better opportunities in large urban areas such as Tokyo.
Appeals to overseas visitors from South Korea, Taiwan, and China feature prominently in the local strategies, with increased stopovers from cruise ships also in view.