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Monday, 18 March, 2019, 12 : 00 PM [IST]

Visit Victoria to enhance India market engagement in coming months

Might look at opening a dedicated office for India in the longer term: Carmen Smith, Head of International Marketing, Visit Victoria
With prospects of Air India increasing its frequencies from the current 3 flights a week to 6 flights to Melbourne in Australia in the next few months, Visit Victoria, the provincial tourism promotion agency of Australia, would be looking at enhancing their trade and other engagements in the Indian market. During a recent visit to Delhi, Carmen Smith, Head of International Markets, Visit Victoria, said that direct access between the two destinations is quite important for their strategy and once that is resolved the Tourism Board would consider investing heavily in trade engagements, brand communication, and other activities. “We wish the additional frequencies to start as quickly as possible,” she said.

India, she said, is an important source market for the Victoria region with Melbourne the first choice for Indian visitors. For the year ended September 2018, 165,500 Indians visited the State of Victoria and Melbourne City. India has seen a year on year increase of 22.5% and Indian visitors make for more than half of the visitors (51%) to Victoria during the period. Indians spent about 438 million dollars in Victoria in 2017-18, she said. There are around 40,000 Indian students pursuing their studies in various universities in Victoria and the State has the highest Indian diaspora in Australia, she said.

“Direct airline connectivity is quite important to gain market share,” she added. While VFR has traditionally been the predominant travel segment from India, Smith said that the trend has started shifting to leisure over the last few years. “Now leisure is stronger than the VFR. We expect the trend to continue,” she added. As a tourism board, they will try to amplify that message going forward, she informed.

She said that the agency highlights the numerous events happening in the city of Melbourne and builds promotional strategies around them identifying the appeal of such events in source markets. In that respect, the agency considers the T20 World Cup which Australia is hosting next year as an opportunity to lure more visitors from India. “The year 2020 promises to be the most promising so far in terms on Australia-India traffic due to the T20 Cricket world Cup where for the first time in its history the ICC World T20 will feature two stand-alone events - the women’s (February 21 –March 8, 2020) men’s (October 18 – November 15, 2020) tournaments, and will be scheduled for different times of the year – both at the prestigious Melbourne Cricket Ground. Melbourne also hosts the four largest annual sporting events in Australia: Australian Open Tennis, AFL Grand Final Week, Australian Formula One Grand Prix and the Spring Racing Carnival. In addition, the award-winning theatrical production – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will open exclusively in Melbourne from January 2019,” Smith said.

“We are super committed to this market,” she said. While the India activities are currently coordinated by Singapore regional office which also takes care of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia markets, Smith said that they will consider opening a dedicated office for India if the “market continues to grow at the current rate.”

Smith represented Visit Victoria as part of a large delegation that also comprised Melbourne Airport and InvestVictoria, at the CAPA conference with the primary objective of securing new direct aviation services into Melbourne.
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