By Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
Japanese tourists require a certain level of hospitality when they travel.
The type of Japanese tourists who come to Papua New Guinea are classified as “mid centrics”. Mid centrics are open and looking to experience new things, while expecting a certain degree of comfort in their accommodation.
The Ambassador of Japan, His Excellency Morio Matsumoto, hosted a Japan and Papua New Guinea tourism promotion event where these issues were discussed.
The event is part of a series of programs the Japanese Embassy will host to signify the 40th anniversary of Japan-PNG bilateral relations, which is as old as the independent state of Papua New Guinea.
Tourism was the focus of the gathering, as Ambassador Matsumoto spoke of the big part that Japanese culture plays in service delivery in Japan’s tourism sector. ‘Omotenashi’ or ‘the Spirit of Japanese service’ was on display as Ambassador Matsumoto treated his guests to a taste of Japan.
Ambassador Matsumoto said, “We would like to promote an exchange of people this year (between Japan and PNG) and promotion of tourism is one of the most important parts of this effort.”
Every year, Papua New Guinea receives over 3,000 Japanese tourists. Most of them are between the ages of 40 and 60 who are mainly interested in World War II relics and sites. The number is decreasing as this tourist age group are reaching an age where they are unable to travel.
However, for young Japanese tourists who are interested in sun, surf and escaping to a tropical paradise, there are very few opportunities in Japan to find out about Papua New Guinea.
“The reason why these young people are not coming very much is because of […] a lack of knowledge. So we need to put more attention on promotion or letting Japanese people know more about PNG.”
Alphonse Hayabe, a former scholarship student in Japan, has done research on Japanese tourists in Papua New Guinea and thinks we should take a more practical approach towards tourism in the country.
“What are their [tourists] expectations and then after we know the reason they come, we produce products to match those needs.”
While Papua New Guinea has a lot to learn from Japan, there are some things Japan can learn from Papua New Guinea as well.
“This country has preserved very nicely their own culture, while some parts of Japan have already abandoned their original culture,” the Ambassador said.