Famed Japanese inn sees brighter future

The coronavirus pandemic has hit many employers hard, especially those in the travel industry. But a time-honored Japanese inn operator is refusing to take a step back, as it develops ambitious plans for the post-COVID era.

Kagaya Group on the Sea of Japan coast held a welcoming ceremony for 85 new employees on Wednesday.

Its flagship property is a 115-year-old inn at a hot spring resort.

The group had to temporarily close all four of its hotels last year after guest numbers dwindled in the face of the pandemic.

But its recovery plan involves an aggressive recruitment strategy, based on the goal of improving customer service in the future.

Oda Yoshihiko, the President of Kagaya Group, says the tourism and lodging industries are driving forces for society despite being severely affected by the virus right now.

The recruits will undergo three months of job training. Then, they will start their careers just as a "new normal" takes shape in the post-COVID world.