Ten years ago Indian tourism to Australia was relatively low, with just 45,000 visitors in 2002.
However, this number has tripled as of 2012 with 160,000 Indian tourists being welcomed to the country.
India is currently the tenth largest inbound market for arrivals to Australia, and has nudged out consistent tourist flows from Germany to be included in the top 10 for the very first time.
This is a huge boost for Australian tourism, but how did it happen?
Tourism Australia has taken steps towards encouraging more Indian tourists to visit in recent years, and anticipates a continual rise in tourist numbers for years to come.
Regional General Manager of Tourism Australia for India Nishant Kashikar, shared the organisation’s plans for encouraging travel to Australia.
“In 2012, we launched the global promotional campaign, ‘There’s Nothing like Australia’ in India, aimed at promoting Australia as an aspirational and a must-visit destination” said Kashikar.
“The campaign highlighted some of Australia’s best tourism attractions, experiences and products utilising a mix of media platforms including television, print, out of home and digital mediums to reach out to the potential travellers.”
This campaign has proved effective to Australian tourism and has given Australia the boost it needs to focus its energy on Indian travellers.
The boost in tourism over the past year can also be attributed to Bollywood and its use of Australian locations in their films.
When people watch a film, they will often want to travel to the places they have seen.
Tourism companies throughout Australia have recognised this, and have begun to assist Bollywood films and television shows in their financing- as long as they film iconic Australian locations.
Melbourne-based Indian tour specialist Carl Mah, told the Sydney Morning Herald that ”Bollywood has a huge influence on where Indians travel. Bollywood is bigger than Hollywood and people want to go to the places they see in the movies,” he says.
”The influence of the movies is massive.”
Tourism Australia recognises this influence, and has tapped into the celebrity phenomenon in hopes of securing future tourism from India.
Mr Kashikar says his organisation has featured many well-known Indian celebrities in their advocacy campaigns, including actor/director couple Aditya Hitkari and Divya Palat.
“Recently, well known actor couple Vivian D’sena and Vahbbiz Dorabjee went to Australia for a series of episodes on their romantic sojourn on the Hindi news channel, Aaj Tak.”
This comes in addition to efforts made in the past to include Australia in popular Indian television shows.
Stars of the popular program ‘I Love Him a Lot,’ Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar, who Mr Kashikar calls “the most popular onscreen TV couple in India,” were shown celebrating their honeymoon in Australia.
Hosting popular faces from the Indian television industry for travel shows has also assisted Tourism Australia in encouraging visitors.
Tourism Australia have also harnessed the talents of cricketing star Brett Lee, who is well recognised among Indians.
Brett recently joined Tourism Australia’s initiative ‘Friends of Australia’, which uses Australian celebrities to encourage Indian travellers.
As part of the initiative the famous pacer gave India’s leading travel agents a personalised tour around the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and treated them to dinner at the iconic stadium afterwards.
Managing Director for Tourism Australia, Andrew McEvoy, says “India is a market that continues to deliver steady growth for Australian tourism, and we are delighted to have someone of Brett Lee’s calibre to further raise the profile of Australia in India.”
He also said Brett’s participation helped his organisation “align to our year 2020 target to secure higher visitor growth from this rising market.”
The India 2020 Strategic Plan has been implemented by Tourism Australia in order to maximise the future potential of this large and complex market.
Mr Kashikar says the plan is “a guiding force for Australia to strengthen its position to be better placed for the future when long-haul travel, in particular leisure, becomes more common, whilst also working to secure additional business event inspired travel from India.”
Kashikar recognises that India has a huge market for outbound travel with more people than ever before earning the means necessary for an overseas holiday.
“India is recognised globally as one of the fastest growing outbound market” says Kashikar, “with the appetite for travelling abroad increasing among the upwardly mobile audience, given the changing lifestyles and the relative stability of the Indian economy.”
He says “India offers enormous potential for future growth, in terms of visitor arrivals and spending.”
Operating off predictions from The United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the Strategic Plan is based on the forecast that there will be 50 million outbound travellers from India by 2020.
This expectation, if accurate will see India achieve a compound annual growth rate of 15 per cent over the next decade.
Amongst the popular destinations India’s outbound travellers are set to visit, Australia is set to perform well, with an expected financial year growth rate of 7.2 per cent from 2020 to 2021.
Mr Kashikar predicts that by the year 2020, “Australia will receive approx. 300,000 Indian visitors.”
However, this growth rate depends on tourist’s ability to travel to Australia.
There are currently no direct flights in operation between India and Australia, forcing travellers to divert through South East Asian hubs including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok.
The aviation situation is recognised by Tourism Australia, who have calculated the expected needs for the future in their Aviation Development Strategy, should the growth of tourism continue as expected.
“Supporting a sustainable and competitive aviation market will be the focus of the Aviation Development Strategy,” says Mr Kashikar.
“It is estimated that an extra 345,000 seats will be required by 2020 to meet the demand from India.”
If Australia can implement suitable strategies including sustainability, as well as maintaining the Nations appeal to Indian tourists, the future of the tourism economy is set to flourish.