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India’s billion beckons

Tourism Australia

Mark Eggleton

If you listened to Australian businesses you could be forgiven for thinking there aren’t any other countries left in the world that matter – aside from China that is.

Indeed, at the launch of Australia’s latest global tourism campaign recently in Shanghai, it would seem our tourism sector still only wanted to tell their China story to the media.

Sure everywhere else seems to be lurching in and out of crisis with most countries only hope being a German or Chinese (again) bailout but there are good stories to tell. A case in point is India’s economy, which has leapt ahead in recent years although this year it has begun to worryingly slide.

While this year’s slowdown is a cause for concern, the country with its over one billion consumers has a burgeoning freshly-minted middle-class keen on exploring beyond their own borders.

In the hope India’s slowdown is short-lived, Tourism Australia recently launched a new strategy aimed at tapping into the future tourism potential of India.

Tourist hotspot… the Sydney Opera House

The India 2020 Strategic Plan, developed by Tourism Australia in consultation with industry and Government stakeholders, is seeking to secure a greater share of the 50 million Indians expected to travel overseas by 2020.

The Plan, unveiled by the Federal Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, identifies the main opportunities but also sets out the approach required to build Australia’s appeal and to win future market share.

Ferguson said the India market is different to China and other markets and requires a strategic approach tailored to this unique and growing market.

“The proportion of Indians travelling to Australia for a holiday is smaller than other markets with many Indian tourists preferring short haul destinations.

“Driven by India’s rapidly emerging middle class, the time to invest and stake Australia’s claim to a share of this growing market is now to position ourselves for when long haul leisure travel becomes more common from Indian tourists,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said the plan will also be supported in coming years under the $61 million Asia Marketing Fund announced in the 2012 Federal Budget.

“This plan will help Australian operators understand the market better, particularly identifying where the best opportunities for growth are, both now and into the future, and will be instrumental in growing both arrivals and value to Australia,” he said.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said the India 2020 Strategic Plan would harness new research, adopt a targeted approach and increase resources by doubling Tourism Australia’s marketing spend in India in 2013 financial year.

“India is a market of strong future potential for Australian tourism given this nation’s rapid rise through this Asian Century,” McEvoy said.

“With today over 70 national tourism organisations active in India, the time is right for Tourism Australia to invest more to both maintain our presence and enable our industry to better leverage a future competitive advantage.”

McEvoy said one of the keys to unlocking India’s long term tourism potential is improved air access and capacity, acknowledging that the market is currently under-served by direct non-stop flights between India and Australia

He said the Singapore Airlines/Virgin Australia alliance, Malaysian Airlines, the Qantas Group and Thai Airways, through their respective South East Asian hubs, supported the bulk of existing air services on the Australia-India route.

“Preliminary analysis suggests we’ll need an additional 345,000 seats from our existing position to meet the expected demand for Australia from India out to 2020. Working with those carriers which represent the best opportunity to support Indian travel to Australia is therefore one of our top priorities under this plan,” McEvoy said.

He said Australian tourism must be ready to fully maximise the “India opportunity”, which means investment in new products and experiences, as well as adapting aspects of service culture.

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