AUSTRALIAN tourism has turned its attention on India as a potential source of tourists, with predictions that within a decade more than 500,000 Indian tourists a year could visit Australia.
Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson will open Tourism Australia’s first office in India this week to capitalise on the spectacular growth that has made India Australia’s fastest-growing source of tourists.
In the past five years, the number of Indians visiting Australia has grown by more than 20% a year, swelling from 43,600 to 111,600. This has been matched by the growth in visits by Australians to India.
Tourism Australia forecasts that over the next decade, this growth will slow only slightly, averaging growth of 16.5% a year. At that rate, more than 500,000 Indians would visit Australia in 2018.
This would make India Australia’s fifth-biggest source of tourists, after New Zealand, Britain, Japan and the US.
India has already become Australia’s fifth-biggest export destination, after even more remarkable growth has lifted the value of exports by 30% a year over the same period, from $2.8 billion to $10.3 billion.
“For both nations, the Australia-India relationship is one of the great opportunities of this century”, Mr Ferguson said before leaving on a five-day trip to India.
In the year to August, overall tourist numbers fell by 10,000 — But the number of Indian tourists jumped by 22,000, or 24%.