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ITM 2014: Celebrating growth

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ITM was bigger and better this year, with more delegates including for the first time some key agents from the Gulf region as well. “This is the 12th edition of the India Travel Mission (ITM) and we are trying to test whether it works for the Gulf market as well. There is no mission for the Gulf region at this stage,” said Nishant Kashikar, Tourism Australia country manager, India and Gulf.

The 55 seller delegates from Australia met some of the top, hand-picked Indian travel agents. There were four airlines this year – Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Virgin Australia, with Etihad joining for the first time. “These airlines are interested in building their network on this route,” added Kashikar. Other important first-time participants included Adelaide Oval and Adelaide Convention Centre. India is one of the fastest growing markets for South Australia. The ICC Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan is going to be played at the Adelaide Oval on February 15, 2015. South Australia is trying to use that to attract the attention of Indian tourists. The presence of Jay Weatherill, premier of South Australia at ITM 2014 reinforced the significance of the Indian market. Based on estimates by ICC travel agents, Tourism Australia expects at least 5,000 to 6,000 people to travel to Australia during the World Cup period. These will be a combination of both MICE and leisure.

Pointing out that ITM is the perfect platform to develop tourism relations between Australia and India, Kashikar mentioned that there are two reasons to celebrate – total arrivals from India in the first six months this year saw an increase of 15 per cent, while the June arrivals saw an increase of 19.3 per cent over the previous year. Total arrivals for the year ended June 2014 were 184,720. “The growth story of the Indian market in Australia is one of the fastest in the APAC region. India is now among the top 10 markets for Australia,” said Michael Newcombe, general manager, South/South East Asia and Gulf Countries. Streamlined Australian visa facilities, label free visa and increasing bilateral relationship between India and Australia have all contributed in increasing the number of Indian visitor arrivals.

New destinations and products

Tourism Australia has brought out a document to make the industry India-ready. Apart from the traditional favourite destinations of Indian visitors in Australia, that is New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, there have been growth in new destinations like Tasmania, Canberra and Western Australia. Philip Island which is a 90 minutes drive from Melbourne has been witnessing increasing arrivals from India. The greatest attraction in the island are its famous inhabitants – the little penguins. “A favourite activity of Indians and other visitors is go carting on the racing tracks, particularly for incentive groups and also families. The Chocolate Factory provides Indian buffet meal which is quite popular,” said Kim Storey, general manager, Phillip Island Regional Tourism Board, adding that they are trying to create awareness among the local travel trade about the India market.

The product development strategy of Tourism Victoria is focused on self drives, niche segments (Restaurant Australia and gourmet trails), lifestyle (fashion and culinary capital), etc. Tourism Victoria is also looking at leveraging the ICC Cricket World Cup, with the finals being held at MCG on March 29, 2015. “Indian travellers are looking for new experiences,” said Celia Ho, regional manager, South and South East Asia, Tourism Victoria, adding that options like bike tours, coffee tours, chocolate walking tours, are segments to be looked at.

ITM 2014 saw the launch of the Restaurant Australia campaign to position Australia as a culinary capital of the world. The campaign is being launched in three phases.