The preceding months have resulted in unprecedented detours to travel and tourism activity, however, the introduction of travel bubbles and safe travel zone arrangements between countries has arisen as a promising first step that will help re-stabilize the industry. Further to this, perceptions amongst potential travellers is that Australia has emerged as one of the countries successfully managing COVID-19. Therefore, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of travellers will continue to be a key priority as international travel restrictions ease and international travel to Australia resumes.
Prior to the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, arrivals and spend from India to Australia had grown at an average of 15 per cent and 19 per cent between 2015 to 2019 respectively, impressively achieving six consecutive years of double-digit growth. As a result, India has ranked as the 6th largest market for spend and 7th for arrivals and had earned the distinction of being Australia’s fastest growing inbound tourism market over the past three years.
Identified as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with an aspirational middle class, young demography and soaring number of outbound travellers, India holds tremendous potential. A hugely significant market for Australian tourism, the number of Indian tourists to Australia is expected to triple to nearly 1.2 million by 2035 (Source: India Economic Strategy). As a result, Tourism Australia has aptly identified India as a rising star market that has the potential to deliver up to one million visitors over the next decade. India’s future tourism potential was further highlighted during the visit by Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism & Investment, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, who led a strong delegation to India for the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) in February 2020. The relationship between the two countries was further strengthened at the first virtual bilateral summit attended by the Prime Ministers of Australia and India during June 2020, with the two leaders confirming their commitment to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two nations, thereby signifying the importance of the Australia – India relationship.
While there has been reduced travel activity globally, Tourism Australia has continued to maintain and amplify Australia’s attractiveness as a destination in India through the delivery of a variety of virtual and digitized initiatives throughout the year. To help induce inspiration and destination recall, the ‘Live from Aus’ campaign was broadcast live over an entire weekend and included some of Australia’s quintessential experiences. Tourism Australia also amplified the launch of Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Live Penguin TV through curated live media interactions. Most recently, Tourism Australia launched Australia in 8D, a collection of audio-video experiences that harnesses the innovative 8D technology and colour psychology to place viewers right in the middle of some of Australia’s most iconic destinations.
Due to the mutual affinity for cricket shared by both India and Australia, as demonstrated during each tour undertaken by the Indian Cricket Team, Tourism Australia realized the tremendous opportunity offered by cricket sporting events and the India market. This was further affirmed by the ICC World Cup 2015, following which arrivals and spend grew by 19 per cent (233k) and 38 per cent (A$ 1.1 Bn) respectively and resulted in over 100,000 international visitors for the game. To capitalize on this opportunity and to encourage cricket enthusiastic Indians to venture beyond the sport and explore the country, Tourism Australia unveiled its India focused tourism campaign, ‘Experience the Game and Beyond’. In line with this, the Women’s leg of the tournament helped achieve the highest viewership for the game and a world-record for attendance at the finals of the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup with 86,174 spectators in attendance. The event also helped visitors from India cross a record 400,000 mark for the year ended February 2020.
With the objective of maintaining Australia’s attractiveness and desirability amongst Indian High Value Travellers, Tourism Australia is now leveraging the opportunity presented by the Border-Gavaskar cricket series, to inspire potential travellers and drive visitation once the borders open post COVID-19. Activity will take place across a number of mediums, leveraging social media platforms, advocates, and leading news portals, to reach Indian high-value travellers. The initiatives include:
- Advertising on Sport Platforms: A 30-sec video showcasing some of Australia’s top natural attractions with an inspirational message reiterating that Australia’s beauty is ageless and that everything travellers want to see will only get more beautiful with time, is being played on online platforms like SonyLiv and ESPNcricinfo
- Advocacy: Influencers like cricket superstar, David Warner, ex-cricketing legend Brett Lee and Friend of Australia, Harsha Bhogle, will be involved too by engaging with media platforms and advocating tourism messages. They will also be collaborating with Indian stand-up comedian, television host and Instagram star, Danish Sait to create engaging video content
- Branded Content: A content partnership with Buzzfeed, a popular internet media and entertainment platform, will see the creation of a curated set of videos to be launched via the platform’s most engaged social media networks – Facebook and Instagram – showcasing Australia’s natural beauty, wildlife and luxury stay options
- Organic Content Seeding: An always-on content distribution plan has been developed to regularly share insights and updates to relevant consumer and trade media platforms.
- Trade engagement: On the Distribution front, initiatives undertaken include webinar sessions for Aussie Specialist agents, updating their destination knowledge as well as engaging initiatives like contests, the launch of an Instagram filter to ‘virtually’ support their favourite team are being undertaken during the tournament period
Key highlights of the recent Consumer Demand Project survey conducted by Tourism Australia reveal the following for Indian High Value Travellers:
- Australia is comfortably the top destination amongst Indian travellers for consideration, awareness, and intention to travel as well as for desirability and fashionability of the destination
- The consumer confidence index, travel and booking intent amongst Indian long haul travellers continue to remain high
- Indian travellers are very optimistic about travelling despite the pandemic, with over 80 per cent of those surveyed believing that Australia is a safe destination to travel to
- Latent demand is very strong for Indian travellers who have not been to Australia before
- Data from Blackbox Research, Dynata and Language Connect has revealed travellers in India have named Australia as one of their top three travel destinations for when borders reopen.