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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Research to Shape Tourism Australia's India Growth Strategy

New consumer research carried out in six of India's fastest growing cities is being used by Tourism Australia to further shape its 10-year marketing plan for the country, aimed at tapping into the future tourism potential of a market estimated to be worth up to A$2.3 billion for Australia by the end of the decade.

The release of the findings comes as the latest international visitor arrival and spending figures confirm India's status as one of Australia's fastest growing and most valuable international tourism markets, with 164,000 visitors (up 7.8 per cent on the year ending June 2012) contributing A$804 million to the Australian economy in overnight spending.

The publication of the research coincides with the start of the India Travel Mission (ITM) 2013, which will see a delegation of up to 40 Australian tourism representatives spend a week in Goa developing and establishing business relationships with Indian travel agencies and tour 534277operators.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said insights from the research would support Australian efforts to lure travellers from India where leisure spending has increased by more than 25 per cent since the launch of Tourism Australia's India 2020 Strategic Plan just over 12 months ago.

"India is one of the world's fastest growing outbound travel markets, with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation predicting 50 million outbound travellers by 2020. While these numbers are staggering, the bulk of this travel is to near neighbours. Tourism Australia has been very active in the market for a number of years and now has a 4 per cent share of medium to long haul travel," Mr McEvoy said.

"We've significantly upped our efforts in India over the past three years and the results are evident. Whilst overall arrivals are up a solid 7.8 per cent, leisure visitors have grown at double that rate. By getting in on the action early, we hope to reap the benefits as long haul leisure travel becomes more common amongst India's rapidly emerging middle classes," he said.

Mr McEvoy said the findings would inform Tourism Australia's own marketing efforts in India and, by sharing the results, assist Australia's tourism industry gain a share of outbound travel from India.

"This research provides some really valuable learnings into the Indian consumer, their purchasing intentions and desire for experiencing travel. India is already Australia's tenth largest source market and has the potential to grow strongly in coming years if we get the marketing, product, distribution and aviation access right," Mr McEvoy said.

The research found that Australia has 'wow' factor and is considered a 'highly aspirational'destination for Indian travellers, with the country's beaches and iconic landmarks high on their travel wish list. Australia's strongest appeal is its natural landscapes and wildlife, with a wide range of experiences appealing to families as well as the more adventurous independent traveller.

Indians' perceptions of Australia are largely positive, acknowledging the beautiful scenery and unique wildlife, as well as the country's contemporary cities and modern infrastructure. Australians are viewed as laid back and friendly.

Although seen as a significant financial investment, an Australian holiday is considered to provide a 'memorable experience' and offers good value for money. Most associations with Australia tend not to go beyond icons, which include kangaroos, Sydney and cricket, while knowledge about specific Australian destinations and attractions is low.

Other key findings of the research:
  • Recommendations from family and friends who have visited or who live in Australia play a very influential role in destination choice;
  • Indian travellers want a holiday that offers comfort, happiness, relaxation and adventure;
  • Pre-packaged holidays are preferred for long haul travel as they provide convenience, a range of options, value for money and safety;
  • Online travel information is their primary source when 'dreaming' or considering a holiday destination as well as in the holiday planning phase;
  • Most Indian travellers continue to use travel agents to plan and book a holiday to Australia. 
Mr McEvoy said it was the first time Tourism Australia had undertaken comprehensive consumer research into its target Indian consumer living outside of Mumbai and Delhi - by including the cities of Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Mr McEvoy said including some of India's more important secondary cities in the research had highlighted similarities but also some interesting differences. For example, Delhiites are more likely to design and book their own holiday; while the ease and comfort of a package holiday was considered more appealing for respondents from Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Tourism Australia will share the findings and insights from the research with industry and governments in Australia and India to help drive targeted marketing communications, and inform the development of products and experiences most likely to drive further demand amongst Indians for Australia.

The research - undertaken by research consultancy Ipsos Social Research Institute (Ipsos) - was conducted in two stages using both qualitative focus groups and in-depth, quantitative interviews, and was based on a targeted sample of 2,054 Indian nleisure travellers.

It also included interviews with travel sellers in India, who provided feedback that Australia's visa application process  out the need to continue to innovate, create and communicate new reasons to travel to Australia.

Hannah Race, Research Manager at Ipsos Social Research Institute believes the research highlights the potential outside the traditional target cities of Mumbai and Delhi, and presents opportunities to raise awareness of specific locations and attractions in Australia.

"The research revealed the high status and importance of overseas travel to Indians in all six of the cities included. Australia certainly has a 'wow' factor for this market, with its natural environment being among the strongest attractions. There is now an opportunity to further build on these positive perceptions by raising awareness of specific destinations and activities on offer to visitors to Australia."

The India 2020 Strategic Plan was developed to maximise India's tourism potential and to set the foundation for the future, when long haul leisure travel becomes more common. Launched in June 2012, it was developed by Tourism Australia incollaboration with industry and government stakeholders. It is a key deliverable of the industry's broader Tourism 2020 strategy, recognising India's role in driving tourism growth in this 'Asian Century'.
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