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Indian tourists to Australia past pre-covid level

Within a year of Australia fully reopening its borders, India is the first country to breach the pre-covid tourist arrival numbers. Between July 2022 and June 2023, 383,000 tourists from India visited Australia, up 3% from the 2018-19 figures, a senior Tourism Australia official said.

The ICC T20 World Cup in Australia played a key role in this achievement, he added.

Furthermore, India secured the fourth position among leading markets for incoming travellers compared to its pre-covid seventh position, Nishant Kashikar, country manager for India and the Gulf countries, Tourism Australia, said in an interview.

Incidentally, Indians spent A$2 billion, or around Rs11,000 crore during the year, up 16% over pre-covid levels. “In 2019, India was the seventh-largest market for Australia in terms of inbound tourism. In the last year, it became the fourth-largest after New Zealand, the US and the UK. China has just opened, so it may increase next year, but we have seen a lot of interest from India. Especially in MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), there are a lot of queries as the country is emerging as a preferred destination,” he added.

Other factors aiding tourism growth from India include the growth of the Indian economy, a 3x rise in weekly direct flights and easing of visa norms.

Australia has started giving three-year multiple-entry visas to tourists in India without any need for physical submission of documents and the duration of business visas has been increased by up to five years.

Air India has raised the number of flights from seven a week to 14 compared to pre-covid, while Qantas is flying eight weekly direct flights to Australia from Delhi and Bengaluru, and might add more flights from 1 October.

In terms of visitors’ profiles, 62% were visits by friends and family, 15% were on holiday, 8% on business, and the remaining 15% included people who went to Australia for employment or studies. Kashikar said around 100,000 Indian students are now studying in Australia.

“There are no direct flights from Mumbai. We are expecting Air India and other carriers to increase direct connectivity, which will help more traffic between the two countries. There are close to one million people of Indian origin calling Australia their home and we get a lot of friends and family traffic,” he added.

Indian tourists spent A$5,800 per person during the last year, compared with A$6,900 spent by US tourists, A$6,800 by the Japanese and A$6,300 by UK citizens.

In order to accommodate more tourists, Australia has opened 200 new hotels across categories, including the likes of W and Ritz Carlton, adding 19,000 rooms since January 2021.

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Updated: 27 Aug 2023, 11:07 PM IST

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