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Hotel Hopes to Recoup G-8 Losses

By: Stephen Carr

Date Posted: 2000-08-18

Like most of Okinawa’s hotels, the Busena Terrace Beach Resort lost a lot of money as a result of the G-8 Summit. Tourists stayed away, roads were blocked and most of the festivals in the month leading up to the event were cancelled. The Busena was host to Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori during the Summit and the conference hall where the leaders met, the Bankoku Shinryokan, is right next door. While security arrangements in the weeks leading up to the Summit were rehearsed, thousands of police milled in and around the hotel. This caused complaints from guests and a compromise was reached with the hotel management. Police inside the hotel, manning a temporary command center, were requested not to wear their uniforms inside the building.

Although the Summit lasted only three days, The Busena Terrace’s losses were compounded by the fact that for two weeks before the conference no ordinary tourists were allowed to stay in the hotel. The hotel had to spend much more than its usual budget on Summit preparations. With no income in what should have been its peak season the Busena Terrace is faced with a considerable gap in its finances. How can it recoup some of its losses? Satsuki Tamaki of the hotel’s public relations department, says the management will now try to attract international conferences to the Bankoku Shinryokan complex. Because of the Summit’s high international profile, the conference venue garnered much media coverage overseas and the hotel is hoping to attract numerous business conferences in future. Tamaki explains this is a long term strategy, looking ahead years rather than months.

The G-8 countries were assigned two buildings each in the grounds around the Bankoku Shinryokan to use as offices. This Club Cottage complex is a few minutes away from the main hotel building and there are electric cars like large golf buggies to ferry guests to and from the complex.

Tamaki says Prime Minister Mori is fond of these contraptions and likes driving them himself. Two of the leaders, Bill Clinton of the United States and Tony Blair of Britain, elected to walk to the cottages rather than ride. They were deep in conversation she says and her impression during the G-8 meeting was that they were especially close.

She was surprised at the informality of the presidents and prime ministers during the conference. When they met they greeted eachother like old friends and there was none of the rigid protocol she had expected. Tamaki also said the Russian leader Vladimir Putin smiled a lot, not at all resembling the mask like impression she had gained from the media. Italian Prime Minister Guiliano Amato was endearing by the way he wore his spectacles on the end of his nose. The Busena Terrace Beach Resort will be reaping some short term rewards from hosting its famous guests by including in its menu foods from the eight countries that took part in the meeting.

There will be Roasted Pork Knuckle with Beer sauce from Germany, Russian Borscht, French Duck Breast in Orange Brandy Sauce, English Sheperd’s Pie, Japanese Yaki Soba, Canadian Pecan Nut Pie and Cajun Fried Prawns from the USA, among others. This special buffet is on offer until the end of September. Depending on demand it might be extended a further month.

The Bankoku Shinryokan has been overwhelmed by visitors wanting to see the site of the world leaders’ deliberations. Other possibilities for G-8 enthusiasts might be staying the cottages which the politicians used as offices, staying the royal suite where Mori slept or using the palatial office where he and his aides prepared for the political jamboree of a lifetime.

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