On June 8th the foreign-owned high-class hotel company Ritz Carleton formally announced that it will expand to Kyoto. As one of the three major cities in the Kansai region of Japan (the others being Osaka and Kobe), Kyoto is only 20 minutes by train northeast from downtown Osaka. The historic city maintains a beautiful appeal as a tourist destination and the Ritz will become part of the Kyoto “brand”. In 2008 more than 50 million people visited Kyoto, and the number has continued to steadily rise. However, because of government restrictions to preserve the traditional atmosphere of the city, there are very few high-rise hotels. This has caused a continuous problem with a lack of available rooms for visitors to stay in.
However, several companies recently received permission to expand. In October 1st of this year Hotel Kintetsu Kyoto Station will open. In February 2014 the Royal Park Hotel Kyoto and the Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts plan to open at the same time as the Ritz Carleton. As most of Japan has already returned to normal since the earthquake and tsunami in March, the continued development of Kyoto as a premier tourist destination will continue to proceed.