Bollywood stars and cricketers are part of Australia’s push to attract visitors from the subcontinent, writes Robert Upe.
Australian tourism officials are targeting Delhi and Mumbai to lure more Indian travellers here.
Along with China, India has one of the world’s fastest-growing outbound travel markets, and more than 50 million Indians are expected to take overseas trips by 2020.
India is Australia’s 11th-biggest inbound tourism market, bringing in 148,200 visitors who spent $867 million last year, but by 2020 officials say that could reach 300,000 visitors spending $2.3 billion.
Delhi and Mumbai have been targeted by Australia because they have an emerging middle class and India’s highest concentration of affluent households.
The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, unveiled an India 2020 strategic plan last month at the annual Australian Tourism Exchange in Perth, the largest travel trade show in the southern hemisphere. “We have put a huge effort into attracting tourists from China recently and the next cab off the rank is India,” he said.
The plan means that Tourism Australia’s “There’s Nothing Like Australia” campaign will be rolled out in Delhi and Mumbai and there will be extensive advertising on TV and digital channels as well as print.
Tourism Australia will spend $5 million on the India campaign in the next year and will also use cricketers and Bollywood stars to spruik the virtues of holidaying here. Cricketers Steve Waugh and Brett Lee have acted as advocates in the past, and more Australian Indian Premier League (IPL) players may be recruited.
Another focus of the strategy is to establish direct air links between Australia and India. There are no direct non-stop flights between the countries but talks are taking place with several airlines believed to include Qantas, Virgin and Air India.
Ferguson says there are 70 national tourism organisations from around the world active in India, and competition to win Indian travellers is fierce.
The India 2020 strategic plan follows the China 2020 strategic plan that was announced by Tourism Australia in June last year, which aims to lure a share of the 100 million Chinese who will be travelling by 2020.
The managing director of Tourism Australia, Andrew McEvoy, has denied suggestions tourism officials are concentrating marketing efforts on China and India at the expense of other more established visitor countries.
“The traditional Western countries are essential to our tourism and have not been abandoned,” he says. “We are not fair-weather friends. We have been with these markets [New Zealand, Britain, the US] for 40 years and we have literally invested hundreds of millions of dollars into them. We are still spending strongly in those countries but the growth is coming from Asia.”
McEvoy says Tourism Australia will also target Japanese travellers later this year.
“We will do something big and significant to reignite our relationship with the Japanese traveller,” he says in reference to the drop in visitors since last year’s earthquake and tsunami.
Robert Upe travelled to Perth courtesy of Tourism Australia.
WHO IS VISITING
1. New Zealand (1,172,700)
2. Britain (608,300)
3. China (542,000)
4. US (456,200)
5. Japan (332,700)
6. Singapore (318,500)
7. Malaysia (241,200)
8. Korea (198,000)
9. Hong Kong (166,300)
10. Germany (153,900)
11. India (148,200)
12 Indonesia (140,400)
– 2011 arrivals.