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What Chinese, Japanese, Americans and Brits want from traveling

Hankerings for Michelin-star experiences and adventure differ country to country

While crowded tourist spots like Tokyo's Asakusa district suggest tourists have a herd mentality, people actually travel for an assortment of reasons.

TOKYO -- Japanese want some escapism and culinary experiences from their overseas travels, Chinese look for shopping opportunities, Americans seek adventure and Brits desire time with family or friends, according to a survey conducted by a private Tokyo research agency.

The survey was conducted by Jalan Research Center, which is affiliated with Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo-based Recruit Lifestyle. It queried 1,660 people in Japan, the U.S., the U.K. and China who have traveled overseas.

When asked to give one reason as to why they take overseas trips, the answer chosen by the highest percentage of Japanese respondents was "to relax," followed by "to eat delicious food" and "to escape from the daily routine."

"To relieve stress" was a top-10 response only in Japan. Among Chinese and British, "to relax" and "to spend quality time with a partner" were the Nos. 1 and 2 answers.

"To do some shopping" was the sixth most cited reason for taking an overseas vacation among Chinese and No. 8 among Japanese but not among the top 10 answers in the U.S. or U.K.

British travelers want to travel to strengthen bonds, the survey shows. For them, the third most popular reason to holiday overseas is "to entertain family."

The survey results reveal cultural differences. "To relax" was the most oft-cited reason to go abroad by Japanese, British and Chinese respondents. "To satisfy adventurous spirit" was the top pick among Americans. "To experience different cultures" was No. 2 among Americans.

The survey also asked what tourists consider when deciding where to go. They were allowed one answer.

Among Japanese, the top answer was "existence of many tourist spots," followed by "availability of delicious meals" and "reasonable trip costs."

Japanese attach greater importance to "availability of delicious meals" than their American, British and Chinese counterparts.

For Chinese travelers, the top three considerations were "best time to visit," "good natural environment and not many environmental issues" and "being a safe place."

Chinese attach greater importance to environmental conditions than to sightseeing.

For Americans, the top three determining factors were "the existence of many tourist spots," "reasonable trip costs" and "the existence of acquaintances at travel destinations."

Americans attach greater importance to "the existence of acquaintances at travel destinations" than their Japanese, British and Chinese counterparts.

For British travelers, the top three conditions were "the existence of many tourist spots," "good weather," and "reasonable trip costs."

The survey also asked about eating and drinking habits while vacationing overseas. Multiple answers were allowed.

For American, British and Chinese travelers, "eating healthy organic food" was a top-four answer. For Japanese, it was No. 7.

For Japanese and Chinese tourists, "going to Michelin-starred restaurants" was a top-10 answer. For Americans and Brits, "taking a meal at a farm or brewery" was No. 5.

The survey also asked travelers how they like to soak up the history and culture of the places they visit. Multiple answers were allowed.

"Visiting sacred places (religious places)" was the No. 4 answer among Japanese, who attach greater importance to such visits than do the other three nationalities.

"Looking at, making and buying traditional artifacts" was the No. 6 answer among Chinese. It was not in the top 10 among the other nationalities.

"Getting a taste of ethnic culture" was a top-four answer for Americans and Brits.

The survey suggests that tourism-related businesses would do well to compile country-by-country business and marketing strategies.

Yukari Matsumoto of Jalan Research Center has some advice in this regard. "It is effective to change content in accordance to the source country," Matsumoto said, "like preparing activities for Americans looking for adventure."

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