All eyes on the jetty

Busselton Dunsborough Times
Zhang Ziyi rides the train that inspired Spirited Away filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.
Camera IconZhang Ziyi rides the train that inspired Spirited Away filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.

The recent filming of Chinese reality TV show Viva La Romance in Busselton will be a boon for the region’s tourism, according to Busselton Jetty Inc.

Hunan TV released photos of the cast — including Chinese superstar Zhang Ziyi, of Memoirs of a Geisha fame — living it up on the 1.8km jetty.

The Times also obtained copies of the notes offered to the cast and crew, explaining the jetty’s importance and influence.

Translated from Mandarin, the notes describe it as the longest timber-piled jetty in the southern hemisphere, the most popular place in WA for weddings, and its inspiration on Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, who created an underwater train in his animated movie Spirited Away based on experiences in Busselton.

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Jetty chief executive Lisa Shreeve said it was incredible for the jetty to be featured on a TV and online program with millions of followers.

“When a Chinese celebrity was married at Ayana in Bali, it created a five-year waiting list for weddings at Ayana,” she said. “There are huge economic benefits that flow from friends and relatives visiting a region and if the jetty can be a catalyst to make this happen, we can build on this comparative advantage.”

Filming took place in Busselton and Rockingham in January, which Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said was worth hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising.

Ms Shreeve said the Asian market was a huge growth market for WA and expected there would soon be big demand for Mandarin speaking staff, offering a “huge opportunity for young people”.

“Our Singapore, Malaysian and Chinese numbers have been increasing year on year for the past five years as people thrive on authentic nature based experiences,” she said.

“Tourists help sustain the ongoing maintenance and preservation of the Jetty through their spend, but they also leave happier I think because we inspire them with our stories.”

The Times understands tourism bodies and stakeholders were negotiating a South West visit from host of If You Are The One, Meng Fei, but his publicists recently revealed the trip would centre on Perth.

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