Most Gold Coast business considered that Japanese tourism was dead. But for the first time in a long time, the downward trend of visitors from Japan to the Gold Coast was reversed, with last year showing an increase of 8.4 per cent.
The upswing was achieved amidst one of the toughest years ever for the Australian tourism industry, as the Global Financial Crisis bit hard everywhere, The Gold Coast managed to somehow woo visitors from Japan back to their sunny shores.
Many experts believed that the Japanese were 'disengaged' and the chances of getting them back were slim.
Tourism Research Australia's International Visitor Survey had Gold Coast Tourism boss Martin Winter ecstatic. He said he had refused to give up on regaining the Japanese market and with the aid of Key industry partners Jetstar, Gold Coast Airport, Japan Airlines and Brisbane Airport, had launched a major effort to return our Asian neighbours to the gold Coast.
"We all had faith and it's been vindicated, this is a huge turnaround ... it's the first time in years that Japanese tourists have increased.” Mr Winter said, adding, "We are absolutely confident we can maintain the market."
The increase for the Gold Coast also bucked the trend of the rest of Australia.
Queensland wide, tourist numbers from Japan fell 27 per cent to 169,000, with the Gold Coast drawing 116,000 of those. Jetstar airline CEO Bruce Buchanan said the they had invested $30 million to try to jump start the Japanese market. He said, "We are seeing traffic drops in places like New Zealand down 50-60 per cent and we've actually been able to turn the tide and get some of the Japanese numbers back on the rebound."
There were increases in other key markets as well with the Chinese market growing 12 per cent to 102,000 visitors, Taiwan up 29 per cent to 23,795, American tourists increased by 22 per cent to 33,553 and the UK also up by 8 per cent to 71,926.
International visitor spending overall was up 0.4 per cent to $1.012 billion with the only downside to the numbers being New Zealand tourist numbers showing a slide of 3.3 per cent to 204,000.
Overall international visitors to the Gold Coast increased by 2.3 per cent.
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