India 2nd highest market for visitation for Victoria; Qantas adds 3 direct flights between Delhi-Melbourne, ET TravelWorld


India has already returned to pre-Covid levels. For the year ending June 2023, Victoria in Australia received 168,000 visitors from India, and the Indian visitors spent USD 556 million. According to Visit Victoria, the destination has the highest level of expenditure among visitors from India, with 39.3 per cent market share.

“To think where we are in the recovery journey, and for India to already be ahead of where it was pre-Covid, is extraordinary,” said Shae Keenan, Chief Marketing Officer, Visit Victoria, who was visiting India to promote the destination along with Nigel Aldons, Head of Global Markets and Commercial, Visit Victoria.

Visit Victoria, the official tourism board for the state of Victoria in Australia, along with Australia’s national carrier, Qantas, presented a two-day culinary pop-up, Flavours of Melbourne, in collaboration with MasterChef Australia finalist, Chef Kishwar Chowdhury at Hyatt Regency Delhi.

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According to Keenan, India has already returned to pre-Covid levels. “India is a really critical market for us. It is currently Victoria’s second highest market for visitation, behind only New Zealand. Even before Covid, we were experiencing really strong growth out of the Indian market. And now as we recover, again, we are seeing incredibly strong growth,” said Keenan. In terms of future prospects, Keenan said, the destination shares an “incredibly strong ambition and optimism” for the growth of visitation from India to Victoria. According to her, the destination has been receiving a mix of visitors ranging from free independent travellers to group travel that are reflective of interesting trends such as multi-generational travel, that is of families travelling together.

“We are also seeing a growing confidence in visitors from India to Melbourne and Victoria in wanting to self drive. Because Victoria is such a small state, it is really easy to fly into Melbourne, and then get in a car and drive out to Great Ocean Road or Phillip Island. So there really is strong positive recovery from this market,” she said.

MICE is another key draw for the destination. “We have seen considerable growth in MICE travel from this market. And this segment is a big focus of Visit Victoria. Our division called the Melbourne Convention Bureau has been doing a lot of work in this market – to attract incentive groups,” she said.

Improved connectivity is another major factor that is driving footfalls from India. And direct flights from Delhi to Melbourne have been an important factor in driving up the demand. Recently, Air India announced direct flights between Mumbai and Melbourne. And now Qantas is all set to introduce 3 additional direct flights per week between Delhi and Melbourne in its winter schedule.

Pre-arrival registration mandatory for Indian travellers going to Hong Kong

​According to the Hong Kong Immigration Department, Indian nationals must complete a pre-arrival registration online before their visit. This online registration is an essential prerequisite for Indian travellers heading to Hong Kong. It is advised to complete this process well in advance of before intended travel date. Vistara has also issued a notification.

“Qantas has increased the frequency of direct flights from Delhi to Melbourne in its winter schedule. From three direct flights between Delhi and Melbourne per week, we will now have six flights per week. These are seasonal flights,” shared Kunal Dewan, Country Manager India, Qantas.

Additionally, Qantas flies direct between Bengaluru and Sydney five times a week. “Bengaluru being a tech hub is a big market for us. The long term plan is to get to Mumbai at some stage,” he added. The current load factor on the Qantas Delhi-Melbourne flights is 85 per cent to 91 per cent through the year and the traffic is predominantly leisure and VFR.

Singapore Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines are the other two critical airline partners. So we have got an extensive aviation capacity into Melbourne. And that is driving both the leisure visitors and the incentive groups that we are seeing,” said Keenan.

According to Visit Victoria, flight search from India remains strong. For the last three months (July to September 2023), flight searches to Victoria were up 15 per cent on the same time last year. This is off an already high base, considering India was a fast recovering market.

The average booking horizon (Distance from search date to departure date) is 88 days, with this longer when compared to the same time last year, indicating more forward planning. Flight search analysis shows that Mumbai-Melbourne, Hyderabad-Melbourne and Ahmedabad-Melbourne are three of Melbourne’s top 10 unserved routes. “The big trend is the multi entry/transit points. We see people going to Sydney and coming out of Melbourne and vice versa,” added Dewan.

Lufthansa adds direct flights between Bengaluru and Munich

With a thrice-weekly frequency arriving the same day at 8:05 in Munich, Lufthansa guests would be able to experience one of the modern and fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft, the Airbus A350-900. As with all services to India, local cuisine and catering will be offered to passengers onboard their direct service from India’s Garden City to Munich.

Improved bilateral relations between India and Australia have made the visa processing smoother, adding to ease of travel and fueling demand. “The visa processing has become quicker. So it has given trade and travel agents confidence in recommending Australia and Melbourne because they can feel secure that the visa will get processed quickly and efficiently. And that has helped build a positive story for Melbourne and Victoria,” said Keenan.

Growing unrest in the Middle East, given the raging conflict between Isreal and Hamas, has had travellers looking at southeast Asia and the APAC region for their holidays. “Australia is known to be a safe destination. So travellers feel confident in booking a trip to Australia, and Melbourne and Victoria particularly. Plus, Melbourne and Victoria is home to over a quarter a million Indian born Victorians. That adds to people feeling safe, feeling welcomed and included. And that is why so many Indian parents send their children to study here,” added Keenan.

According to Keenan, imagery plays a great role in selling a product which highlights the importance of increased social media content. “We work closely with our partners on cooperative campaigns where we both invest money, or bring our channels to the table to actively promote special deals, special offers or packages to Melbourne and Victoria,” she said.

Sharing insights into the focus markets within India, Keenan said from a geography perspective, Mumbai and Delhi are key markets for Visit Victoria. “As also Bangaluru, Kolkata and Chennai. Apart from these, we are also looking at those tier two cities where there is awareness and interest in the destination, as well as important feeder markets,” she said.

“We would like to direct our efforts on independent travellers and group travellers. We also work with the luxury end of the market, which is an increasing part of this market for us. Honeymoon segment as well as the multi-generational travels, so we are looking at groups of families traveling together, which Melbourne is really uniquely placed to help deliver a terrific experience for,” she added.

In terms of luxury and experiential travel, Keenan said the destination would like to go big on gig tourism apart from the existing sports tourism as well as wine and gastronomical tourism. These experiences, Keenan said, would encourage the travellers to book well in advance.

  • Published On Nov 9, 2023 at 02:49 PM IST

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