The inbound market from Japan is suffering a catastrophic decline with Tourism Australia copping the blame.
According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 15,700 Japanese tourists came to Australia in June, down 45 per cent year-on-year and 59 per cent compared to June 2002.
The Age reports one tour operator, who asked not to be named, blamed Tourism Australia for a “one-dimensional marketing strategy” that no longer meets the needs of today’s Japanese tourists.
University of NSW academic Roger March agreed. He said research showing the main reason Japanese tourists visit Australia is to cuddle a koala is based on too narrow a demographic. They are in fact likely to be younger, more widely travelled and looking for “soft adventure”.
“The days are long gone when you would see groups of Japanese tourists trailing a tour guide around the CBD, they’re very much looking to get their hands dirty,” he added.
A Tourism Australia spokeswoman blamed the decline on the slowdown in the Japanese economy, reduced air capacity and fears over swine flu.