Indian travellers to Australia have demonstrated that spending on quality travel experiences is no constraint, as the spend figures by Indian travellers in Australia has reached an all-time high, says Nishant Kashikar.
What kind of growth has Australia witnessed as a tourism destination in India? How was 2015 in terms of business?
Australia has achieved a record increase in Indian arrivals and spends during the year 2015. As at year ended September 2015, 226,300 Indian travellers visited Australia, which is an increase of 19 pc over the previous year. For the nine months to September, Australia received 170,100 visitors from India, a 21 pc increase relative to the same period of the previous year. India has improved its ranking to be the 8th largest inbound market for arrivals as at year ended September 2015.
What initiatives has Tourism Australia taken to promote tourism in India? What products and services do you offer and do they appeal to Indian travellers?
On the consumer front, Tourism Australia has adopted a conversion driven, tactical approach by collaborating with our key distribution and airline partners, to promote attractive offers and fares to Australia using print, broadcast and digital media vehicles. This is being executed using the platform of our global campaign ‘There’s Nothing like Australia’ that highlights some of the best tourism experiences that Australia has to offer.
The campaign has also evolved further with renewed focus on one of Australia’s key competitive advantages – food and wine experiences – communicated through the Restaurant Australia campaign. We have recently undertaken campaigns with Mercury Travels, Kesari Tours, Vacations Exotica, MakeMyTrip.com, Yatra.com, Cox & Kings, TUI, Kulin Kumar and Kuoni-SOTC featuring attractive travel packages starting at INR 119,990, as well as with our key airline partners including Singapore Airlines, Silk Air and Air India. Our objective through the brand campaign, supported by great value packages from distribution partners, is to make Australia the next holiday destination for Indian travellers. The focused strategy of taking tactical driven offers to consumers puts us in a mighty position to achieve our 2020 plan. To continue the momentum of generating tourism driven conversations on Australia, Tourism Australia also runs a robust Public Relations program to leverage the advocacy by relevant media influencers.
On the trade front, we are focused on equipping our trade partners with the requisite knowledge through trainings to sell Australia. We have recently launched the revamped version of the ‘Aussie Specialist Program’ consisting of interactive training modules, itinerary suggestions, factsheets, latest industry news updates, destination FAQs and an interactive map. A team of Aussie Specialist trainers have been recruited to provide face-to-face training in key markets for frontline travel sellers. There are also annual trade events such as the India Travel Mission, the Australian Tourism Exchange and Dreamtime, which focuses on business events that we organise to bring together the Indian and Australian tourism industry.
How important is Indian market for Australia?
Statistically, India is one of the world’s fastest growing outbound travel markets. For Australia, India has been increasingly growing in importance – from ranking as the number 11 inbound market for Australia in early 2014, India has improved its ranking to be the 8th largest inbound market for Australia. 25 Through focused consumer and distribution activities, we are working towards making Australia the most preferred holiday destination for Indian travellers.
Indian travellers to Australia have demonstrated that spending on quality travel experiences is no constraint as the spend figures by Indian travellers in Australia has reached an all-time high. For the year ending June 2015, visitor expenditure out of India crossed INR 48 billion mark registering a record growth of 39 pc. India has also improved its ranking to become the 10th largest market for spends into Australia. We would like to build on this growth and the strong foundation that we have laid for ourselves to capitalise and leverage on.
How has been the connectivity between India and Australia? Are there any plans to expand the network?
Growing aviation access has been identified as a key pillar to achieve the India 2020 potential as it is critical to have increased capacity on the India-Australia route to accommodate the growing demand. There are regular, one-stop flights from key cities in India to key ports in Australia via Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Emirates. Qantas also has a code share agreement with Jet Airways, via Singapore. The commencement of Air India’s daily direct, non-stop services on the Delhi-Sydney (four times a week) and Delhi-Melbourne (thrice a week) route in August 2013 has provided a boost to arrivals.
As part of the India 2020 strategic plan, the Aviation Development Strategy will focus on working with airlines to support available capacity for Australia. Tourism Australia is working with Indian carriers and other airlines to identify opportunities for the Australia-India route and provide partnership solutions.
Which segments are you focusing on? What are the new activities preferred by Indian travellers in Australia?
The target customer to drive the future growth of travel to Australia has been identified as affluent, mid-life travelers who are self-employed or entrepreneurs, highly qualified professionals, senior executives at multinational companies residing in the Indian cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. They usually travel as couples, often with their children; increasingly as free independent travelers (FIT).
We are noticing an increasing trend of people wanting to spend more time exploring newer destinations, cities, regions and indulge in experiential travel itineraries. There is rising trend of Indian travellers opting for nontraditional destinations like Hamilton Island, Kangaroo Island and Tasmania. We have also seen growing interest for culinary tourism, sports tourism and an increased preference for self-drive holidays in the country. Luxury experiences such as wilderness lodges, vineyard retreats, island hideaways and luxe outback camps are gradually making way to the Indian traveller’s itinerary.
Any plans in the MICE category?
Australia features amongst the favourite, long-haul MICE destination among Indian corporates. The country delivers an incredible range of experiences across regions with its native wildlife, coastal lifestyle, vast outback and vibrant cities that are highly motivating reasons for corporates to choose Australia to incentivise their top performers.
We work closely with business travel specialists and decision makers of mid to large sized corporate entities to showcase the destination and promote it as an incentive destination. As part of past familiarisation programmes, we have introduced decision makers to experiences that can vow their groups – like having a private net session with Brett Lee or Glenn McGrath at the Sydney Cricket Ground, watching the Australian Open or an international cricket match at one of the world class stadiums in Australia.
For the year ended June 2015, business travel contributes to 12pc of arrivals from India. Numerous corporates who have recently travelled to Australia for their incentive trips includes Voltas, Mangalam Cement, Alembic Pharma, Bajaj Finance, Sumitomo Corporation, Cisco, Star Sports and Pepsico, amongst many others.
What trends are observed by Tourism Australia with regards to Indian travellers?
Indian travellers are known for their preference of visiting iconic Australian destinations including Sydney Harbour, Sydney Opera House and Blue Mountains in New South Wales, the Great Ocean Road and Melbourne in Victoria, the Great Barrier Reef and Gold Coast in Queensland, amongst others.
Tourism Australia recently conducted a Consumer Demand Project that has revealed that world class beaches, coastlines and marine wildlife have been identified as the top attractions that appealed to Indian travellers. In addition, majority of Indian tourists ranked safety, world-class natural beauty, value for money and food & wine as the biggest drivers for Australia as their preferred destination.
What are the plans for 2016?
We will continue using the ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ brand campaign to showcase Australia as a nation with diverse and exciting experiences. There will be a focus on promoting key Australian experiences that find strong resonance with Indian travellers, including food and wine and aquatic and coastal experiences that have been rated very highly in recent consumer studies undertaken by Tourism Australia. Apart from our brand campaign, we will also be joining hands with key airline and distribution partners for cooperative campaigns presenting potential travellers with exciting offers to visit Australia.
The campaigns will be innovatively executed through content integration initiatives with leading media houses of India and sharp use of advocacy through public relations and international media hosting programmes.
How do you ensure the safety of Indians travelling to Australia after the violent attacks on Indian students in 2009?
Australia is a country of warm, friendly and welcoming people. Maintaining international standards of safety for tourists is top priority for the Australian government. Earlier this year, four Australian cities – Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth were named in the Top Ten most liveable cities of the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability survey of 140 cities.
Do you think the recent visit of Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb to India will have any impact on India-Australia tourism?
These are definitely exciting times for India-Australia relations, which are at an all-time high. The visits of high dignitaries are signs of commitment to reinforce and strengthen governmental ties between the two countries and it is sure to have a positive outcome on the success of bilateral trade and investment, relations, including growth of tourism and education ties.