Top News Good conditions fuel strong Indian outbound to Australia By Rohit Kaul / Posted on 3 January, 2024 12:52 Tourism Australia is recording strong demand from the Indian market on the back of enhanced air capacity, a friendly visa regime, and growing interest from diverse segments like business events and young travellers. Indian arrivals to Australia have reached 385,000 for the period between October 2022 and September 2023, and the market is now the fifth largest inbound market for Tourism Australia. Kashikar: from Australia’s 20th largest source market a decade ago, India is now the destination’ fifth Nishant Kashikar, country manager, India & Gulf, Tourism Australia, told TTG Asia that India “has been the first market to bounce back to pre-Covid levels”. The market used to rank number seven. Indian travellers are also spending more in Australia – up 24 per cent, reaching a substantial A$2.2 billion (US$1.5 billion) for the period from July 2022 to June 2023. Improved flight connections play a pivotal role in fostering tourism growth, opined Kashikar. Capacity on the India-Australia route has increased from eight flights a week pre-Covid to 28 flights per week today. Most recently in December 2023, Air India commenced thrice weekly direct flights connecting Mumbai and Melbourne. Said Kashikar: “We are seeing a lot of young Indians travelling to Australia. We are going to leverage the digital ecosystem to reach out to young Indian travellers and inspire them through our Come & Say G’day campaign that we launched a year ago. We are also noticing a growing demand for self-drive holidays from India.” Tourism Australia also recorded overwhelming interest from the Indian corporate events segment last year – “a remarkable five-fold increase in MICE leads compared to 2019 levels”, shared Kashikar. “This is primarily because of the faster turnaround time, and streamlined service offered for corporates by the Department of Home Affairs to process their visas. So, we have seen Australia’s attractiveness rise in terms of MICE in 2023. The Indian economy has done well and segments like banking, financial services, insurance, infrastructure and healthcare have helped in the growth of MICE demand for Australia,” he explained. Guldeep Singh Sahni, managing director, Weldon Tours & Travels, commented that an easy visa application system is a strong motivation for travellers to pick a destination. “Even though the average turnaround time for visa processing is four to five days, we have seen some applications being processed within 24 hours. As a result, many Indian travel agents are suggesting travel to Australia,” said Sahni. In the new year, Tourism Australia will do more to promote destinations beyond well-known ones – the draws of Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Canberra, Perth, Northern Territory, Daintree region in tropical North Queensland, and the Great Barrier Reef will be highlighted to the Indian market.