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Tuesday, 05 April, 2016, 16 : 00 PM [IST]

For There’s Nothing Like Australia

In the past nine years, India has managed to emerge as a long-term dedicated source market for Tourism Australia. Indians travel to the nation Down Under mainly for holidays and visiting friends and relatives, making leisure travel a major contributor to Australia’s tourism economy. Disha Shah Ghosh offers an insight
Nishant KashikarAustralia started promoting its tourism products since the late 90s, and the year 2000 saw the tourism board servicing the Indian market from its Malaysia office, which later relocated to Singapore. Simultaneously, to test the waters, PR representatives were appointed to showcase the tourism offerings of the country in the Indian market. Eventually, with India consistently showing growth, on November 4, 2008, the India office of Tourism Australia was set up in Mumbai.  Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager, India & Gulf, Tourism Australia, said, “With India having identified as a long-term source market; we established the office in Mumbai. After setting up the office, we recorded 124,800 Indian visitors in 2009-2010, which was a growth of 8% over the previous year.”

Growth Story
In 2010, Tourism Australia welcomed 138,700 tourists from India; and the figure reached over 233,000 in 2015. “To leverage the potential offered by the Indian outbound travel market, we maintain the highest share of voice and have doubled our investment in the market, since the launch of the India 2020 Strategic Plan. There has been a significant shift in arrivals after we set up the office in India. Between 2004 and 2009, there was an average growth of 22% when Qantas operated direct, non-stop. Post Qantas pulling out, the average growth in visitation dropped to 9%. However, ever since Air India commenced direct flights in 2014, we have recorded 17% and 19% increase in arrivals during 2014 and 2015 respectively. Spend over the past two years have increased by 15% and 38% respectively, and Indian tourists now contribute over AUD 1.1 billion (over INR 5,000 crore) to the Australian economy.  Our aim is to sustain the growth in visitation and spend during 2016 and beyond,” Kashikar said.

Tourism Australia has set a target to achieve 245,000 tourists from India by June 2016. “By 2020, we are looking at welcoming over 300,000 Indians, and achieve AUD 1.9 billion in tourist spend.”

Tourism Australia

Trade Activities
Over the years, the strategy adopted by Tourism Australia is to closely engage with the trade partners in India and launch innovative campaigns to throw the spotlight on the various unique and novel offerings the nation has to offer. “The online training programme—Aussie Specialist Program (ASP), which helps the travel trade become a specialist in selling Australia to end consumers, has been hugely popular. By June this year, we aim to have over 3,000 certified ASP agents.”

With more and more Indians visiting Australia, the state tourism organisations of Tourism Victoria, Destination New South Wales, South Australia Tourism Commission, Tourism and Events Queensland and Gold Coast Tourism have started actively tapping the Indian market by participating in various trade shows, events, and partnership marketing activities with Tourism Australia to showcase what their region has to offer.

There’s Nothing like Australia
With the aim of promoting Australia as a must-see destination with world-class tourism experiences, Tourism Australia launched a global promotional campaign, ‘There’s Nothing like Australia’ in India in 2012. Focusing on high-quality products, the campaign aims to showcase Australia as a unique holiday destination. The various phases of the campaign have highlighted tourism attractions, experiences and products like Food & Wine, self-drive journeys, luxury lodges, aquatic & coastal experiences, etc.

The year 2015 was a significant year ever since the opening of Tourism Australia’s office in 2008. There were three key milestones—Indian arrivals crossed the 230,000-arrival mark, thereby recording a growth of 19% for the year ended December 2015. For the year ending December 2015, Indian tourists contributed over AUD 1.1 billion to the Australian economy, an increase of 39% over the previous year. “The spend grew faster than increase in arrivals,” Kashikar said.

Kashikar went on to say, “The third and the most significant milestone is that India has improved its ranking as the 8th largest inbound market, from its 11th position earlier, overtaking Germany, Hong Kong, and South Korea in a span of 12-18 months.”

India elevating its position was a critical achievement for Tourism Australia. The leisure segment, which includes the VFR and holiday travellers, is now driving the overall growth into the Australian economy and has contributed to 2/3rd of the overall visitation, and 37% of the overall spend, which is a significant factor.

Tourism Australia

Access & Partnerships
Australia being a long-haul destination, aviation access and connectivity is an important factor to drive visitation. Tourism Australia collaborates with Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, SilkAir and Air India on various marketing initiatives. “We are also looking at actively engage with Qantas, Jet Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Thai Airways, Scoot and Air Asia X to improve access and seat capacity into Australia.” Tourism Australia has partnership marketing agreements with airlines and STOs for consumer and trade marketing campaigns.

As part of its promotional activities, Tourism Australia enjoys global support of the likes of VISA, TripAdvisor and Expedia, besides working with key distribution partners and preferred agents in India. Kashikar said, “We leverage on the distribution network of larger agencies and train their sub-agents.” Besides, Tourism Australia engages with many Australian cricketers, Masterchefs, to drive advocacy and build Australia’s attractiveness.

Going further, Tourism Australia aims to drive dispersal and length of stay, by encouraging Indians to visit the surrounds of key gateway cities of Australia. Tourism Australia will also be collaborating with up to 15 key distribution partners during 2016, to make Australia as the preferred holiday destination for Indian travellers.

Strong Foundation
Kashikar believes that the growth that the tourism board is witnessing in India is because of the strong foundation laid by former chief Maggie White, who was responsible for setting up of the India office in 2008.“She built and nurtured this market right from its infancy, and created a strong bond between the Australian and Indian travel industry. She was more Indian than an Indian, and held her relationships with all her Indian and Australian industry friends and colleagues close to her heart. Her efforts in the nascent stages of destination Australia’s presence in India steered this market in the direction of sustained long-term growth.”

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