Tokyo, June 4, 2018 - HomeAway, part of the Expedia Group and one of the world’s largest vacation rental sites with more than two million diverse and unique properties in 190 countries, the Japan Kominka Association, and Rakuten LIFULL STAY, Inc. agreed today on a business partnership to use traditional folk houses (kominka) as vacation rentals with the aim of increasing the recognition and value of kominka among domestic and overseas tourists in Japan, and accelerating the revitalization of local tourism.
Through this partnership, the three parties will use kominka as vacation rental properties to convey the charms of these houses and local communities to Japanese and foreign travelers and strengthen efforts to encourage longer stays. As part of this partnership, the Japan Kominka Association has established the “Kominka Accommodation Certification,” a set of standards for using the kominka as accommodation facilities. The certification system consists of 20 items*1, and kominka appraisers certified by the Japan Kominka Association evaluate each house to ensure the safe and secure property development. Kominka that have been evaluated and meet the standards are issued a “Certified Traditional House logo” (Figure 1) sticker that can be placed on the property, making it easier for visitors and tourists to recognize them. The properties will also be introduced on HomeAway’s website as “certified traditional folk houses.” By promoting kominkan and local community charms to the 40 million users from 190 countries who visit their site each month and carrying out a variety of marketing activities, HomeAway aims to encourage long-term stays. Rakuten LIFULL STAY will support the development of kominka properties and their operation across Japan.
In entering the partnership, the Japan Kominka Association established the Kominka Owners Club to raise awareness about owning and using kominka. The Kominka Owners Club allows members to jointly own kominka, which can reduce the cost and lower the barriers to becoming an owner of such properties. Members of the Kominka Owners Club can also stay in kominka owned by other members. According to a survey*2 carried out by the Japan Kominka Association, there are about 1.28 million kominka in Japan. The Japan Kominka Association estimates that out of these, over 640,000 kominka can be turned into vacation rental properties, if renovation work is carried out. Through the Kominka Owners Club, the Japan Kominka Association aims to increase the number of kominka and give more people the opportunity to enjoy staying in traditional folk houses by lowering the barriers to ownership.
According to a survey of about 1,000 people in seven countries conducted by HomeAway, more than 90% of families and groups, the main users of HomeAway, expressed interest in staying at a kominka (Figure 2). Foreigners visiting Japan tend to be interested in Japanese culture and history and want to experience how the Japanese live. For foreigners who like long stays with their families or groups, staying at a kominka is expected to become an attractive reason for traveling.
Japan’s inbound demand is steadily growing, with the number of foreign visitors to Japan in April 2018 increasing 12.5% year-on-year to 2.901 million visitors*3, and travel that focuses on experiences is expected to increase in the future. Through the partnership, the three parties will actively promote the use of kominka to meet the diverse inbound demand.