When Ling was living on the Gold Coast, it had a reputation as one of the best resort destinations in the world. Everything was booming, and many Japanese tourists came.
Many souvenir shops opened up on the Surfers Paradise, but, local owners complained that Japanese companies had pre-organised how the tourists would spend their money so that the profit could be repatriated to Japan.
As the more Japanese had arrived, and the number of Japanese residents increased, changes took place. These changes included increased number of Japanese restaurants offering dishes which had never been on the menu, i.e. Lobster’s “Tataki”. The RSPCA criticised the dish as cruel to crayfish, for chopped up parts of crayfish were served on a dish while the legs were still moving. Well, for the Japanese, it was the sign of freshness. Some items that had never been sold at shops started appearing, i.e. fish head, etc., etc. Some internationally famous brand shops would open the door only when the Japanese tourists came. There was also a discussion about necessity of changing the road sign into English and Japanese.
While it seemed Gold Coast would maintain its status as the ideal destination for the Japanese tourists, Ling often heard the comment, “It is a nice place to visit, but not much to do.” This was the problem of not creating repeat visits. A stark contrast is Hawaii. The Japanese tourists
keep going back to Hawaii. Of course, one big issue was the much higher air fare to come to Australia. These days, we have Jetstar and other discounted airlines, but, are the Japanese tourists coming back?
Long time ago, Ling heard that the general Australian’s attitude toward export was if you had something left, let’s export. You have to create what the other country wants to buy to export goods successfully. If you want customers to come to you, then you have to create what the customers want. So, how can we attract the Japanese tourists to Australia? We have to keep innovating to offer what they want. This means you have to continuously try to understand what they want, for what they want changes as well.
Japanese tourists do not relax during their holiday abroad. This is not their expectation. They want to visit and see as many places as possible, do shopping, for they have to take back souvenir to their families and friends. One souvenir shop owner asked Ling why a honeymoon couple would by 50 kitchen mittens. It is because they have to take back some gifts to all the people who gave them a wedding gift, which, in Japan, usually is cash. It is safe to give them the same thing, if the amount given is the similar, in case they start comparing what they have received.
Japanese people feel they are missing out something if they have time to just sit down and relax.
Ling used to go to Hawaii for Christmas holiday when she was living in Japan. When she was sunbathing on the beach on her own, a bus load of Japanese tourists arrived, quite a few men dressed in a business suit, took photos, and left. These days, people are more casually dressed, and try to enjoy the atmosphere not just taking photos, but, still, they like to keep themselves busy.
They like to show off their friends back in Japan how many places they have been to. There was an extreme case that this one tourist who went to America, just took photos of road signs to show that he had been to all these places.
For the Australians going to Japan, Niseko, Hakuba and other ski resorts have become very popular destinations for skiing. Starting from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, some other cities are also visited by some Australians. However, there are many other beautiful and interesting places in Japan to visit, and the local governments are making efforts to promote their own areas.
By local governments in Japan and Australia working together, there is a potential to attract tourists to these yet-to-be developed destinations.