Tokyo’s HATO BUS: New Tourism Ideas Amidst the COVID-19 Situation

Aired: Oct. 29, 2020

Hato Bus is one of the leading bus tourism companies in Tokyo. However, they are going through a 98% decrease in year-on-year earnings due to the coronavirus crisis. Amidst such a situation, the company launched a special tour package utilizing their buses that are currently out of commission. The tour is one that could only be imagined under the current situation; a gigantic maze comprising of 3.8m-tall buses, a bus-ventilation experience, and a visit to a new attraction in the Tokyo Bay Area. This segment features new strategies in the tourism industry during the corona era.

Ishikawa Yusei, Chief of Public Affairs of HATO BUS
A HATO bus driving near Tokyo Station
A gigantic maze made up of HATO buses
Bus tour guides

Viewers’ Voice

The bus company is really committed to continuing their business during difficult times. It was admirable to see them figuring out ways of making a small income, keeping employees engaged, and educating passengers. They are doing it while using those values to re-enforce their brand, for a future when they can trade normally.

From the UK

The segment was very fun to watch and quite refreshing. Those ideas to keep up with touristic activity and to keep the brand or the company’s image alive are a great way to deal with the loss of customers.

From France

I love how employees are so focused on the happiness of their customers and try hard to make them feel welcome and enjoy themselves. The maze idea was very cool. It was fun to see the little kids running through the maze. I’m sure they really enjoyed it. They’ve really created a unique experience for families.

From the US

More Information

HATO BUS Official Website:


Producer’s Notes

Tokyo’s tourism industry is at a standstill due to COVID-19. Amidst such situation, HATO BUS’ employees have been taking on other tasks in addition to their regular work. Drivers are dispatched to drive for metropolitan public buses and those with mechanic qualifications are assigned to bus maintenance. They also take turns in maintaining the depot and mechanical inspection of the buses. Bus tour guides take turns in measuring passengers’ temperature before boarding.
In the span of the next few months to a year, HATO BUS plans to keep their current business scale and aims to recover revenue through making the best out of subsidies and travel campaigns by the government. While the company may consider sale of some assets in the process, there are no plans to downsize their work-force, looking into the time when bus tour numbers return to normal. However, in case tourism demand couldn’t be expected to bounce back in the next few years even with the government initiatives, the company will be considering strategies such as shift in business field or downsizing.

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