How important is it for Australians to actually physically travel to Asia to get a sense of developments there?
What do you miss out on if you don't go?
I would say it is critical for Australians to physically visit Asia to truly understand it. Although Asia is very mufti-cultural with many ethnic Asians here, things are still very different in Asia and things vary a lot from country to country.
Like learning a language, the more you immerse yourself in a foreign environment, the easier it is to pick up the language. You don't even have to try as hard because, you lean by just being there.
No amount of reading, watching videos or even talking to people about Asia but still in Australia, will be as good as seeing things first hand. That's why I believe in taking Australian entrepreneurs to Asia with Asia Recon to experience how locals live, what they do, what they use etc.
Going to Asia will help prove or disprove your assumptions about Asia. I've come across people in Australia who think a certain way because they heard about it and they take it as fact, but actually they are completely wrong. For example, I was at a start-up event and one Australian entrepreneur thought social media doesn't exist in China, when in fact it's probably being used more there, than in Australia.
Visiting Asia is a start, but to make the most of this growth area one needs to live here.
Having lived in Vietnam and regularly visiting neighbouring countries, it takes time and effort to reach in below the surface. To prepare myself for this step my academic focus was Asian centric. The academics got most of it wrong. For instance a casual observation would suggest Asia is a long term orientated culture. It could not be further from the truth. Asia is in the now, buildings last about 10 years, street scape are constantly evolving.
The markets here are heavily protected compared the laissez-faire attitude of Australian governments. Your strategy needs to out smart local companies that have access to growing pool of venture funding.
Most successful businesses need to be deeply connected to a strong clan. There is no legal protection in these countries, so don't expect the "rule of law". Just today news of a foreigner was published that she had three days eviction from a landlord that liked her business so much, to pull the rug from under her. Landlords are constantly taken over the businesses of their tenants.
Video production has gained a major boost in quality with Hollywood filming here. A few times a year a photography/video studio is sold by a once ambitious foreigner. The locals can under cut any foreigner, especially as respect in creative crafts is diminishing.
I believe it depends on the person's request. If you are interested to look at other people, other countries, to plunge into their culture, then of course it is worth traveling to Asia. I, for example, was in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and I want to say that these countries impressed me. They have a very exciting culture and architecture, I liked the fact that our guide provided information very interesting. I will definitely continue to travel to these countries