As Indians take to travelling, Australia emerges as the new favourite

New Delhi: The resurgence of the Indian traveller is becoming increasingly significant on the global stage, especially in the wake of the Chinese tourist’s reduced presence in the international outbound travel industry. This shift has led many countries to prioritize India as a key tourist market.

Australia, in particular, is witnessing a notable rebound in Indian tourists, with travel numbers catching-up with pre-pandemic levels. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, travel from India to Australia in 2023 has aligned with 2019 figures. This is in stark contrast to the sharp 65% decline in Chinese travellers due to prolonged pandemic-induced lockdowns in China.

Up to November, 3.13 lakh Indians visited Australia, compared to 4.23 lakh Chinese, who were Australia’s largest source market after New Zealand before the pandemic. In the pre-pandemic year of 2019, 12.32 lakh Chinese travelled to Australia.

Australia was the fourth largest outbound market from India in 2019, following the US, UK, and Canada, as per data from India’s tourism ministry. Tourism Australia anticipates an even higher influx of Indian travellers this year, as recovery from other major markets like the UK remains incomplete. The UK sent 5.28 lakh visitors in 2019, but only 4.41 lakh up to November 2023.

New Zealand remains Australia’s top source market, with approximately 10.3 lakh travellers, yet this figure is still 12% below 2019’s pre-pandemic levels. Other markets showing recovery include South Korea, Iran, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, which have returned or are nearing their 2019 travel levels.

“India is poised to be the fastest growing economy and Indians are travelling around the world like never before, despite travel inflation. Better air connectivity with the country, with nearly triple the airfare options, have played their role in its recovery as a source market to Australia,” said Nishant Kashikar, country manager of Tourism Australia.

In recent months, Australian state representatives, particularly from Queensland and Victoria, have engaged with India to strengthen ties in anticipation of finalizing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). In the first half of 2023, Queensland alone attracted over 64,000 Indian visitors, home to attractions like the Great Barrier Reef.

Significant contributions to the travel rebound also come from large Indian meeting groups.

Reflecting on the broader trend, a 2019 study by Nangia Andersen LLP and FICCI found that Indians spent $22.9 billion on outbound trips that year. Europe was a top destination for 20% of these travellers, with a substantial 10% heading to Australia and New Zealand. However, Southeast Asia continues to hold a significant share of Indian outbound tourism, thanks to the availability of short-haul flights.

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