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‘We estimate that direct aviation link between India & Western Australia will attract 100,000 people annually’

Of the million-strong Indian diaspora in Australia, around 60,000 are India- born and another 77,000 of Indian heritage call Western Australia their home. By leveraging this strength, efforts are underway to develop tourism products and services which are in sync with the current trends alongside establishing direct air access with source markets like India. At the cusp of launching an ambitious brand re-imagination campaign, Western Australia Deputy Premier, Robert Cook, was in India recently leading a trade mission. In an exclusive chat with TravelBiz Monitor talks, he about ‘tourism’ as Western Australia’s key strategic direction towards diversifying his region’s economy and creating employment.

Let’s talk about Indo-Australian trade ties how does tourism fit into it
India represents a very important opportunity for Western Australia and one of the things that we are trying to do at the moment is to diversify our economy. We have great strengths in mining and agriculture, and we want to continue to grow those sectors and through that diversify to other sectors. We are looking at areas such as international education, space industries, defense industries, but one of the sectors we are really keen to grow in Western Australia are tourism based industries.

During Covid-19, research that we undertook demonstrates for us that people are looking for genuine tourism experiences where they can experience great environment, cultural opportunities, culinary opportunities and wide open spaces. Western Australia has all those things in abundance and we are really looking to grow our tourism product and the tourism opportunities for Western Australia by inviting people, particularly from close Asian neighbours who can have short stays in Western Australia because of the short flight time.

What will be Western Australia’s key new initiatives or investment plan directed at boosting the region’s tourism profile?
We are about to do a reimagining of Western Australia brand which will see a significant promotional programme in the second half of this year. The global launch will happen in August and the promotional programmes will run from there onwards. The branding will be launched this month and we will roll that out in the international market throughout September and October, running up to year end. That will be in time for the Australian summer which we hope would be an attractive proposition, particularly for people coming from the Northern Hemisphere.

What that brand campaign will do is to really focus upon those intrinsic values of the Western Australia tourism products – the cultural values associated with our first nation’s native, the aboriginal people. Furthermore, it will be about our pristine environments, culinary offerings and it will be about the opportunity to enjoy clean open environment in a truly wilderness area.

How do you view tourism’s strategic value for your state?
We see tourism as being a key driver of the economic development of Western Australia and continuing to drive the diversification of the Western Australian economy. To give you an indication of the impact of it, we have about 10 billion dollar tourism industry in Western Australia at the moment, employing about 100,000 people. By 2032, we want to grow to double that number which is 20 billion dollar industry and employing about 180,000 people.

What we want to say is Western Australia is open for business and tourists. We are excited about the prospects of inviting members of the Indian community over to Western Australia to experience our unique products. Also, we know that there are many people who want to visit friends and relatives, and we welcome them to Western Australia to reunite with their families and to really experience everything that the region has to offer.

Connectivity is key to growing tourist traffic. How are you addressing that?
That’s right and we are trying to improve the aviation links between the markets we are targeting such as India and Western Australia. It (direct air connectivity between India and Western Australia) existed in the past. We are in talks with Australian carriers. We are having discussion with TATA (Air India) who are obviously key stakeholder in that discussion, and also IndiGo. We want to explore the opportunity to see if there is an appetite, and if we can have agreement with the airlines. We estimate that direct aviation link will attract 100,000 people in a year.

What are popular Australian destinations in the Indian market and where does Western Australia stands?
New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria remain key destinations for Indian tourist coming to Australia. What we are trying to do is to get a better slice of that pie. Therefore, what we are trying to do is grow the level of demand by promotions in markets such as India. Also, we are trying to improve our tourism products as well, both around service and physical products.

We get around 10 per cent of the overall Indian travellers coming to Australia which is consistent with our population level, but we can do better and we want to continue to grow our tourism opportunities in relation to Indian travellers.

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