Japanese tourists make up a distinguishing part of the Australian tourism market, usually taking short package tours which greatly concentrate on the iconic places of interest usually Sydney, Uluru, Gold Coast and Cairns, and viewing Australian native animals predominantly the koala (Hamilton & Clive 2005, p.3).
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There are various categories of Japanese tourists: Package Tourist, Working Holiday Tourist, Students and Long Stay Tourist. Middle-aged women’s group (groups of friends whose children have grown up), Working single women’s group (young office women with their friends or colleagues), Single women students group (university or college students), Retired couples (over 60- years old couples) and Honey Moon couples form Package Tourist (M.M.P.Ltd 2008, par.4).
Most Japanese tourists have changed from being package tourists who require a prior arrangement of all services including transport, accommodation, sightseeing, meals and a Japanese tour guide to others such as study and ‘free style’ tour where one conducts the tour as he wishes. Australia managed to take advantage of the growing number of Japanese tourists by recognizing these different categories of tourists and taking better care of them as compared to other countries (M.M.P.Ltd 2008, par.5).
Japanese students frequently tour other countries to gain experience and exposure to careers to take after their studies rather than to sightsee. In Japan, most companies employ on a contract basis, hence some of these graduates and middle-aged people would wish to work in other parts of the world encouraging the tours. Although English courses are offered in Japan, they take six to eight years which is considered a long time by the natives and are relatively expensive. For ease of communication during tours in English-speaking countries and to acquire jobs in the same they take lessons from other countries. Australia offers working holiday visas with three months of English courses to those aged between 18-30 years, short courses such as gardening in English and also has schools that offer the course for two weeks (M.M.P.Ltd 2008, par.6). They allow for long-term trips that extend up to two months which is an immense attraction to the Long Stay Tourists.
The current attitude of Japanese towards Australian tourism
The tourist market in Japan changed due to the economic recession in 2000 which the Australian sector failed to recognize leading to a decline in the number of tourists (Reuters 2007, par.2). However, efforts provided by the Australian tourism sector to improve and advertise the sector afresh, have been unsuccessful (James 2007, par.2). The Australian tourism minister attributed this to “The appreciation of the Australian dollar to the yen, coupled with the slashing of aviation seats out of Japan by 9%” making the dream of an Australian holiday less of a reality for too many Japanese,” (James 2007, par.6). The Japanese are hence turning to Europe as they are also bored by the koalas and Sydney harbor.
A campaign was launched with the tagline “Australia: a different light”, (Tourism Australia 2007, par.8) which read “where the bloody hell are you?”, but did not alter their outlook due to the fact that a very tiny percentage of Japanese are well conversant with the English language (cyber diver news network 2007, par.1). The introduction of the internet has provided a wide range of information for Japanese tourists to choose the best services.
According to recent research, the Japanese are not willing to spend much on their outbound tours like in the past. This is determined by the various segments they belong to. These segments exist as a result of the tourists being group-oriented; they, therefore, travel in groups rather than as individuals. There are eight stages of classifying the Japanese travel cycle: family trip, school excursion, language trip, graduation holiday that averagely costs $1319 and lasts eight days (Travel Journal 1997, p.234). The graduates opt for cheaper means of transport like Euromail, and honeymoon overseas because it costs relatively lower than $8,000 (Daily Yomiuri 1996, p.6) which is the cost of the same in Japan.
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Australia provides the second-highest of Japanese overseas weddings which costs an average of $27000. This is considered the relatively lower cost and easy-to-follow arrangements; for instance, an in-company trip that lasts between two days and one week costs range from $400 to $2,833 per person. The other is the silver trip for people over the age of sixty which has emerged the most targeted since they are full package tours (Chon, Inagaki &Ōhashi 2000, p.150).
Formally Australia was one of the major attractions for Japanese tourists due to its unique services. This changed after the economic recession in Japan that made traveling to Australia very expensive for the tourists who preferred other countries. The Australian tourism industry hence needs to come up with new measures to bring it back where it was before.
Chon K.S, Inagaki T, Ōhashi T 2000, Japanese tourists: socio-economic, marketing, and psychological analysis, Haworth press, pp.150-200.
Cyber diver news network 2007. Web.
Daily Yomiuri, 1996, socio-economic, marketing, and psychological analysis.
Hamilton & Clive 2005, Cashing In On Koalas, p.10. Web.
Mi Marketing Pty Ltd. 2008, ‘Japanese Lifestyle’. Web.
Reuters, Wed. 2007. Web.
Tourism Australia 2007. Web.
Travel Journal 1997, Japanese tourists: socio-economic, marketing, and psychological analysis, Journal of International Tourism, 4(1), 234-156.