Nishant Kashikar speaks with T3 about Tourism Australia's progress of the 2020 Strategic Plan
India is recognized globally as one of the fastest growing outbound market, with the appetite for travelling abroad increasing among the upwardly mobile audience given the changing lifestyles and relative stability of the economy. India offers enormous potential for future growth in terms of visitor arrivals and spends. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has predicted 50 million outbound travelers from India by 2020.
It is a market of strong future potential for Australian tourism given this nation's rapid rise in outbound travel. We have seen a surge in visitor arrivals from 41,000 visitors in 2000, to 159,420 visitors in 2012. India is currently Australia’s 10th largest inbound tourism market. To identify ways to work effectively in this large market, Tourism Australia and the Australian tourism industry has developed an ‘India 2020 Strategic Plan’.
There were a total of 159,420 Indian visitors in 2012, an increase of 7.5 per cent relative to the same period last year. A 15.3 per cent growth was recorded in the leisure arrivals (those travelling for holiday or to visit friends and family) from India to Australia for the calendar year 2012.
Aviation capacity is critical to Australia achieving the India 2020 potential. Most Indian travellers to Australia presently travel through South East Asian hubs such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Supporting a sustainable and competitive aviation market will be the focus of the Aviation Development Strategy as part of the 2020 plan. Tourism Australia is working with Indian airlines and South East Asian carriers to identify opportunities for the Australia-India route and provide partnership solutions.
To facilitate the visa procurement process, Tourism Australia along with the Department of Immigration & Citizenship (DIAC) has introduced a Preferred Agency Scheme for select Aussie Specialist agencies who are subject to a pre-determined selection criteria. These agencies are trained in handling the documentation verification processes and the visa applications submitted through these agencies are processed on priority. In addition, DIAC is also running a program wherein 25 agencies have been identified under the Electronic Visa Lodgement program, which allows them to apply for Visas that can be obtained on priority.
There have been several consumer focused campaigns that we have undertaken over the years educating Indian travelers about leisure experiences available in Australia in addition to cooperative campaigns with trade and airline partners to offer the best tactical deals to potential travelers. Our current global promotional campaign, ‘There's Nothing like Australia’ is aimed at promoting Australia as an aspirational, and a must-visit destination. The campaign highlights some of Australia’s best tourism attractions, experiences and products utilizing a mix of media platforms including television, print, outdoor and digital mediums to reach out to the potential travelers.
Apart from our brand campaign, we have also collaborated with key airline partners like Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines and distribution partners including Mercury Travels, Vacations Exotica, Ezeego, Kulin Kumar Holidays, etc. for joint advertising campaigns presenting potential travelers with a variety of exciting offers.
Our brand campaign, There’s nothing like Australia, is resonating well amongst our target audience. We will continue to build on this campaign with a focus on showcasing ‘Best of Australia’ destinations and experiences through our consumer focused activities, while also evaluating opportunities to undertake suitable branded content initiatives that help showcase the destination and experiences in greater depth.
In addition to our ongoing ‘There’s Nothing Like Australia’ campaign, we have very recently launched the “Best Jobs in the World” initiative in association with our State and Territory partners. This initiative is a global campaign, predominately targeting the youth sector to consider Australia as a working holiday destination, but at the same time showcases the amazing range of experiences that can be found across Australia. It amplifies our ‘There's Nothing Like Australia’ message that Australia is a wonderful, world-class destination full of unique experiences, adventure and great places to explore.
One of the key initiatives on the trade front was the India Mega Famil and Workshop in September 2012 where we had over 70 Indian travel agents in Melbourne to meet with Australian travel representatives. This event also gave them the opportunity to explore and experience Australia. There has also been a focus on developing the Business Events segment to promote MICE movement to Australia. We recently hosted a couple of corporate group along with our travel trade partners to showcase the Business Events facilities of Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast. Our upcoming trade events include the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) to be held in Sydney in April 2013; the India Travel Mission (ITM) to be held in Aug 2013; etc.
There is a strong focus on developing our online training program - the Aussie Specialist Program for travel agents and supplementing it with offline training sessions to help our travel partners build their knowledge base on Australia. We currently have over 2600 travel agents registered on the Aussie Specialist Program of which 792 are qualified ASP agents. In addition, we have collaborated with select trade partners on joint promotions through print and online advertising.
There are countless unexplored destinations within Australia for Indian travellers and our brand campaign focuses on showcasing some of the best of Australia experiences to consumers. We would like to acquaint Indian visitors to destinations like Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island in Queensland; Western Australia that has spectacular diversity in landscapes and climates; Northern Territory famous for two iconic attractions the vast wetlands and plains of Kakadu National Park, and the sandstone rock formation called Uluru, among others. Few Indians would perhaps know that parts of Australia receive snow during the Australian winter and snowfield regions like Mt. Buller which is 3 hours away from Melbourne is a perfect getaway to indulge in snow activities.
We also recommend visitors to undertake self-drive holidays in Australia which are a great way of touring the country and taking in its varied landscape and sights. An Indian driving license issued in English is valid in Australia making it a convenient travel option for Indian visitors to Australia. Another product to suit the aspirations of the affluent travellers are the Luxury Lodges of Australia – a collection of accommodation ranging from wilderness lodges to vineyard retreats and dining destinations; island hideaways to luxe outback camps, that demonstrate high levels of innovation and excellence.