Singapore's Patience Capital Group (PCG) has outlined its 210 billion yen plan to transform Myoko Kogen into a Whistler-style mega resort.

Myoko Kogen, one of Japan’s oldest ski destinations, is set for a major overhaul. Singaporean investment group PCG has announced a 10-year 210 billion yen plan aimed at transforming this quiet ski town into a thriving mega resort to rival the likes of Aspen, Whistler and St Moritz.

To date, PCG has raised 35 billion yen (AUD$367 million) for its ‘Japan Tourism Fund One’, the bulk of which will be injected into Myoko’s long-standing ski industry. Aided by a weakened yen, the company has already acquired 350 hectares of land in the Myoko region, including Madarao Ski Resort, which it purchased in late 2022.

The Myoko region, home to 5 individual ski resorts, is one of Japan’s first-established ski destinations, boasting a near 100-year history.

The first phase of PCG’s investment plan is focused on developing large-scale luxury accommodation alongside housing for thousands of potential employees. The company has attracted the interest of more than 10 global hotel brands, at least two of which will be given the green light in December. Future plans for development include a shopping district with luxury brand stores and fine dining restaurants.

The Myoko region, home to 5 individual ski resorts, is one of Japan’s first-established ski destinations, boasting a near 100-year history. Since the the ski “bubble” of the ’80s and ’90s, however, the resort has witnessed a steady decrease in the number of visitors, resulting in empty lodges and a lack of opportunities for local up-and-coming skiers.

Of course, this is not unique to the Myoko region. Across the country, the number of skiers and snowboarders has fallen by 75% since the late ’90s, a trend driven by Japan’s ageing population and stagnant economy. Skiers and snowboarders now make up just 3% of the population, down from 14% in 1998.

Of Japan’s 450+ ski resorts, a small minority, led by Niseko and Hakuba, have seen massive growth throughout this same period – a contradiction that can be attributed to the increase in foreign skiers and snowboarders visiting Japan. From 2013 to 2017, for example, the number of foreign skiers grew from 300,000 to 860,000, thanks in part to a rapidly growing population of Chinese skiers.

Japan’s tourism industry has rebounded strongly since the country re-opened its borders in October 2022. A renewed demand for Japanese powder saw international skiers return to the slopes in numbers, with Niseko reporting 1.73 million visitors during the 2022/23 winter season, nearing the 2.15 million it recorded during the 2018/19 season. This was largely achieved without assistance from Chinese tourists, who weren’t able to travel until January this year when China relaxed its zero-COVID policy.

PCG, led by its founder, CEO and CIO Ken Chan, will be hoping that Myoko can tap into this lucrative international market. Certainly, its potential as a world-class ski hub is supported by a few key traits including its proximity to Tokyo (<300 km), its accessibility by shinkansen (bullet train), and its impeccable powder credentials (13+ m snow per season).


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