Tomakomai leads in Hokkaido IR race

The Experts Committee established by Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi held its third meeting on Wednesday and declared that among the three municipalities vying for the prefectural government’s support, Tomakomai clearly held the advantage.

Committee member Mitsuhiro Kawamoto, a professor of tourism studies based at Sapporo International University, was quoted as remarking, “For the purpose of spreading the positive economic effects throughout Hokkaido, Tomakomai is the most suitable.”

This conclusion was based in part on the presentations that the three candidate municipalities—Tomakomai city, Kushiro city, and Rusutsu village—made to the committee during the second meeting on August 30. Tomakomai’s advantages include the fact that it could build larger IR facilities, its proximity to the New Chitose Airport, and the fact that international IR operators have already shown great interest in the site.

Another committee member actually cited the recent Hokkaido Earthquake as a sort of advantage, claiming that the construction of the IR in nearby Tomakomai would be useful for economic recovery in the most seriously afflicted area of the prefecture.

The committee also discussed countermeasures against gambling addiction at Wednesday’s meeting.

It was noted, for example, that there are only seven medical institutions in the prefecture prepared to deal with gambling addiction issues, and five of these are concentrated in Sapporo city.

The Hokkaido Experts Committee consists of nine members with specializations in areas such as tourism, regional development, and gambling addiction countermeasures. The chairman is Shuji Koiso, a former president of Kushiro Public University of Economics.

The Experts Committee is planning to meet only one more time before issuing its report to the governor.