For the six months to June, Australia received 1,22,900 Indians, a 24 per cent increase relative to the same period of the previous year and Tourism Australia expects to maintain a healthy growth in the rest of the year and hopes to close the year with 2.35 lakh arrivals, Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager (India and Gulf), Tourism Australia, told PTI.
While arrivals from India rose 19 per cent in 2014 to 2.2 lakh, their spending soared 39 per cent to AUD 1 billion, he said, adding that with the pilot launch of the electronic visa application (E-600 facility) for Indians, the number of visitors from here should go up further.
Currently, the E-600 facility is available with 80 tour operators, who have reported higher business now.
We hope to roll out the facility to across India over the next 12 months, Kashikar said.
Indians splurged a record AUD 1 billion last year in Australia, up 39 per cent over 2013, driven by the Cricket World Cup in the first quarter, as almost 15,000 Indians watched the matches in that country during the tournament.
However, Tourism Australia expects the spending by Indians to touch AUD 1.9 billion by 2020 with 3 lakh Indian visitors, he added.
Kashikar said “with each Indian spending around AUD 5,000, they are the highest per capita spenders visiting Australia.”
India has also improved its ranking to become the 10th largest market for spend into Australia.
For the quarter ending June 2015, India recorded visitor expenditure growth of 40 per cent.
The Cricket World Cup alone brought an incremental revenue of around AUD 70 million, by Indian visitors, Kashikar said, adding that the first half revenue touched AUD 632 million with the first quarter revenue alone being AUD 350 million.
He also said that 49 per cent of Indians visiting Australia are repeat visitors, and at 2.2 lakh Indians visiting in 2014, India has become the eighth largest tourism market for Australia.
Last year, the rank was way below at 11th position.
When asked about India-bound travel from Australia, he said since Indians are the largest ethnic grouping in that country at 0.5 million, the outbound travellers to India are more at 2.4 lakh last year.
While total number of Indians visiting Australia this year stood at 2,07,000, China still retains the top position with visitor numbers touching 8,64,000 so far this year.
Kashikar, however, admitted that the growth projections will not be possible if airlines do not cooperate.
Currently, no Australian airline flies to India, while only Air India flies directly to that country.
Though there is a demand for 3.45 lakh seats annually between the two countries, Air India offers only 93,400 seats now or 6,500 seats per week.
He said with AUD 35 billion in tourism revenue, this sector contributes around 2 per cent of the country’s GDP and the plan is to take this revenue to over AUD 115 billion by 2020, he added.