‘Sydney and NSW offer myriad opportunities for different segments of travellers’
For seasoned travel marketer, Samar Chokshi, life has come a full circle with his latest position as Country Manager – India for Destination New South Wales (DNSW).
Through his previous stints at Singapore Tourism Board and Tourism Australia, a combined experience of over 18 years, Chokshi comes prepared with the skills required for this job, and complete understanding to promoting an established tourism destination in a market as complex as India, the opportunities that it entails, and the challenges that come with it.
Talking about Sydney, the most popular and visited destination in Australia, he said, “I have added layers to my experience along with the current challenge to promote Sydney and NSW. Sydney is the largest and oldest city to be developed in Australia. It has heritage, it has character, the Royal National Park, the Hunter Valley, and is the home of lots of firsts. It is a popular incentives destination as many corporate offices have their base in Sydney. Events and festivals are a huge draw in Sydney, and the city has been ranked as the premiere state for festivals for tenth year in running.”
What works for Chokshi is the know-how about Sydney and NSW as well the mind-set of the new-age Indian traveller, keen to explore, indulge and soak in newer experiences at their own space. “The kind of variety that Sydney and NSW offer is profound and caters to varied segment of travellers. A lot has changed on the ground post Covid with new hotel developments, newer restaurants and activity-based travel in Sydney and surroundings, providing a wholesome experience.”
The massive growth in aviation capacity to Australia is a clear indication of the demand for Down Under, and will surely aid traveller numbers to Sydney from India. “Air India operates three weekly flights from Mumbai, and Qantas has increased frequency from Bengaluru. IndiGo via code-share with Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Scoot, and VietJet all are offering enhanced flight choices to travel to Sydney,” Chokshi said.
What works for Sydney is its food & wine, nature-based activities, adventure offerings and the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a big draw. “It is a conscious effort to promote heritage walks, coffee culture tours, indigenous tours, coastal walks from Bondi Beach to Bronte, helicopter rides, seaplane rides, etc. Post covid, Business Events has been the fastest growing segments for us. We have had large groups of 650-700 pax visiting Sydney, and smaller tours are in the pipeline. It is pretty much year round business, with 30-40℅ increase in spend,” he said.
The three-year multiple-entry visa for Australia has been a standard product, and now under a new agreement, business travellers can get five-year multiple entry visa. “The visa turnaround time has been an advantage for Australia to capitalise on the demand, and fulfil the need.” Indian travellers stay on an average four nights in Sydney, and spend around AUD 400-500 per night. “There has been a growing demand for self-drive holidays, as well as chauffer driven travel to explore the destination at one’s own pace. India is the fourth largest source market for us, and has seen a 96% recovery in pre-Covid numbers until May this year.”
Enlisting his favourite activities in Australia, Chokshi says that the food & wine offering in the nation Down Under is top notch, and the kind of permutations and combinations available are unmatched in the world. “Whether it is Sydney or the Hunter Valley, food & wine tops my list of things to do in Australia. While enjoying water-based activities or undertaking day excursions, one can soak in the local ingredients and the natural produce, a perfect way to unwind and enjoy an authentic Australian holiday.”