Melbourne and Sydney are often on an Indian tourist's radar when it comes to exploring Australia. However, very soon, Western Australia is all set to become a hotspot as they amp up their efforts to appeal to Indian holidayers. In a recent step to expand their influence among Indian tour operators and key industry players, Western Australia's Treasurer and Minister of Tourism and Transport, Hon Rita Saffioti, visited India along with her team to showcase all that the region has to offer and what distinguishes it as a unique destination worth exploring. In the roundtables hosted across major Indian cities, the team strengthened their relationship with key stakeholders, such as tour operators and media, and discussed their plans going forward.
Talking about where they currently stand, Tourism Western Australia's Managing Director, Carolyn Turnbull, said, "The Indian market has been a prominent source of incoming tourists, and its position has improved substantially. It currently stands as the fourth-largest international visitor market from being the ninth in 2019."
However, this is just the beginning. The Tourism Western Australia team, bolstered by Saffioti's vision, has an extensive plan drawn out to ensure success ahead. A crucial step in the process, which has been a few years, is establishing direct connectivity between India and Perth.
As per Saffioti, discussions are still underway with key Indian airline operators, but challenges persist. "The key airlines acknowledge that there would be demand, but aircraft availability is a problem. So, for us, it is a matter of waiting. In the meantime, we want to start building momentum in the Indian market, as it is an important market," says Saffioti.
The availability of direct flights won't just propel the number of incoming tourists from India to Perth but is also poised to impact the rest of Western Australia positively. While this may be a work in progress, Saffioti is committed to enhancing other factors that make it easier for Indian tourists to explore the many best-kept secrets of the region. "One of the things we've been doing is supporting and promoting more regional air travel within Western Australia. So, for example, we supported the establishment of a new airline in Western Australia to support regional tourism," she says. Establishing direct connectivity between Perth and India via non-stop flights is also poised to influence the discovery of the rest of the region overall. Meanwhile, Saffioti is also focused on encouraging incoming tourists to explore Western Australia via self-drive holidays. "There are so many beautiful places, such as beaches, wineries, and reserves that are only a couple of hours away from Perth—these make for really unique destinations and even help the local community at a micro-level," says Saffoti.
For Tourism Western Australia, High Yield Travellers (HYT) and Visitors of Friends and Relatives (VFR ) continue to be their primary demographics. Talking about how Western Australia seeks to position itself as a destination of choice to acquire new customers from this existing flourishing cohort, Saffioti says, "HYTs from India seek unique experiences, which benefits Western Australia as it offers a break from the otherwise populated cities of Sydney and Melbourne or even European destinations from that matter. And where VFR is concerned, Western Australia houses a flourishing Indian community, which means that people would continue visiting their friends and relatives." While these two demographics continue to flourish, Saffioti is also keen on embracing the rising trend of bleisure travellers. "We just announced last week where that we will be investing in a new convention centre to support business tourism. We very much see business tourism over the future as a key target for us, as that can transform into opportunities where people stay for longer and visit various parts of the state. In addition, we have got a very strong economic growth and resources sector, which will help us expand our business tourism sector," says Saffioti.