Pockets ofAsia providetourism joy

Sarah IsonBusselton Dunsborough Times
Busselton Jetty chief executive Lisa Shreeve sits on the train that draws thousands of Japanese tourists a year excited to see what inspired scenes of anime film Spirited Away.
Camera IconBusselton Jetty chief executive Lisa Shreeve sits on the train that draws thousands of Japanese tourists a year excited to see what inspired scenes of anime film Spirited Away. Credit: Sarah Ison/Picture: Sarah Ison, Sarah Ison Busselton Dunsborough Times

Amid a general decline in tourism to the region, several Capes operators have reported huge spikes in visitation — mostly on the back of random exposure in Asian markets.

This month, statistics revealed foreign overnight visitors fell by 8.3 per cent over the past 12 months and 4.2 per cent over the last three years.

But despite the daunting dives in tourist numbers and spend, locals revealed to the Times this week unique marketing successes.

Wonky Windmill Eco Farm owner and operator Michelle Fleming reported a 40 per cent jump in Singaporean tourists this year and could for some time not explain the source of the boost.

“We didn’t know for a while why there was a jump in numbers, until we started asking the Singaporean visitors where they heard of us,” she said.

“Turns out there was a chance article in Singapore media and since then, Singaporeans have kept coming back in increasing numbers.”

Sunflower Animal Farm reported a similar experience on an even bigger scale but with the Chinese market.

General manager Debbie Jones said ever since the farm was featured on Chinese TV show, Where are We Going, Dad? in 2015, “bus loads of Chinese” frequented the farm.

While Chinese tourists continue flocking to Sunflower Animal Farm after seeing it featured in their media, the same long-term drawcard is prevalent for Japanese tourists visiting the Busselton Jetty.

The inspiration behind the underwater train featured in prolific Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s film, Spirited Away, was the train running along the Busselton Jetty, which Miyazaki saw on a visit to the region.

The live-streaming of weddings and other events at the jetty also drew significant attention from Chinese viewers.

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