For a prospective Indian tourist researching Australia, there is much interesting and surprising information online. It is the “world’s smallest continent and largest island.” According to the World Bank 2020 Report, Australia has a population of 26 million. This is a little higher than the population of India’s capital, New Delhi. “Australia is a land of dreams. From the sacred legends of the Aboriginal Dreamtime, when the great spirits conjured the coral reefs, rainforests, and red deserts, to armchair travelers who describe Australia as their dream destination, the Land Down Under deserves all the hype” (planetware.com).
Tourism is a key source of economic income for Australia, bringing considerable foreign exchange to the treasury. Tourism contributes “$34 billion – that is 2.6% of Australia’s GDP” and “provides around half a million jobs” to her citizens (tourism.australia.com). It must be noted that the Covid-19 worldwide lockdown hit the Australian tourism industry hard, causing a loss of almost $7 billion and its implications are therefore serious for the job market.
“Tourism is a strategically important sector, for India and Australia” (aes2020.in). However, to attract Indian tourists, the Australian department of Tourism must undertake great initiatives. In this article, the author will focus upon the importance of Indian tourists to Australia and upon how Canberra can attract more Indians.
Every year Indian visitors to Australia have been increasing. It is expected that in 2035 Indian tourists to Australia will “grow four-fold, from 300,000 in 2017 to nearly 1.2 million, worth around $9 billion each year to the Australian economy” (dfat.gov.au). Yet, to achieve this, both Australia and India should work more closely in the department of Tourism. More of the private players in the industry should contribute to bring about this transformation. The Australian government must meet all the necessary requirements to achieve this ambitious target.
It is understandable that the rich, the upper middleclass of society and business people always value tourism. Still, if the Australian government only targets this customer market in India, its tourism sector will not take off to the next level. To grow, Australia should concentrate on the growing middle class in India. The youth of this class are very ambitious. Attracting them will not be an easy. It shall require meticulous action and strategy. The ambitious middleclass have increasingly sought to better the quality of their children’s education, to better their health care, to obtain better jobs and better training programmes. The business of this class is moving towards India’s metropolitan cities, causing its emerging cities to increase in size. The Covid-19 pandemic halted this phenomenon; however, it is expected that it will resume once the world emerges from the pandemic. The ‘new normal’ will occur once vaccination reaches everyone globally and the world economy revives and prospers. It is good that the policies of the world governments are sailing in this direction.
Jeba, an international tour operator at Trivandram, said, “Australia can attract Indian middleclass society as tourists. However, first, they should operate more direct flights from South India’s cities to Western Australia’s major city Perth. This policy approach will reduce the travel duration to just 7-8 hours from Chennai to Perth. Moreover, increasing the direct flights to Perth from South Indian major cities not only lowers the ticket price; it will attract more travel agents like me to reach out to common people including schools and colleges. Second, the European model of cheap flights connecting their cities is a good strategy that can be adopted in Australia.”
Jeba’s point suggests that many of India’s middleclass believe that travelling to Australia is too expensive and that connecting the Australian cities would likewise be too costly. A right articulation of policy between India and Australia can break this mentality in India. The Australian policy makers should be involved in this process to correct the issue.
The tour operators are the bridge between the two countries facilitating an improvement in mutual international travel and tourism. These agents are doing all the required paperwork to obtain visas for tourists, arranging hotels according to their purpose, such as for medical and educational reasons, for school and college students. Hence, the Australian Tourism department should organize annual meetings and conferences, provide inviting incentives, to encourage tour operators and resolve the challenges and difficulties they encounter.
Medical tourism can attract more tourists from India if Australia realized its potential and significance. Healthcare is one of Australia’s areas of expertise, for which it is globally recognized. This sector can bring more Indians to Australia, even though India can provide cheaper treatment. Those Indians who visit the U.S. for medical treatment shall only be diverted to Australia if both countries increase their direct travel connections.
A related point can be found in the sport of cricket. Young cricketers often travel to the UK to play for its clubs. These young Indians look towards the West in such a manner because it possesses an image of prosperity. Australia must build a similar image in India; the Indian youth must feel that Australia can benefit them. For instance, for promotional purposes, Australia’s local cricket clubs could accommodate India’s youth. Moreover, the MRF Foundation can also be utilized for better promotion. Australia could particularly market its cricket pitches, given that these are famous for fast bowling.
Higher education is another growth area. There are already over 37,000 Indian students in Australian universities. This will increase annually according to the employment opportunities in Australia. Once they settle down with a job, they shall likely invite their families to visit Australia, benefitting the economy.
Three decades ago, Australia had an image of racism amongst many Indian students as they considered choosing Australia for higher education. Now, this has changed dramatically. A Computer teacher, Ranjit Alyousis, an Indian-Australian, shared with the author that a decade ago, all these issues were due to the strict policies of the Government. Now that there is more tolerance, increasing multiculturalism has been recognized as a growing part of Australia. These changes in Australia should be utilized.
Thus, Australia and India should celebrate the year ahead by focusing on promoting Tourism. If so, they should simplify mutual international travel. The visa process should be simplified. Australia ought to provide Indian travellers with a one-month ‘Visa on Arrival.’ This will encourage even a simple, middleclass Indian family with the hope that they can visit Australia in their lifetime. If not, Australia shall regret, even for the next decade, that they have missed the Indian tourist bus once again. In my experience, most of my friends would still prefer to visit Europe or America, even though America is much farther than Australia. Hence, this article has shown the importance of Indian tourism to Australia and it has articulated several concrete steps that Australia can take to this end. Australia must attempt to remove the barriers which hinder Indians from visiting Australia.