sand and shopping - Sydney lures the Indian tourist
By Neena Bhandari
Indo-Asian News Service
Sydney, Sep 15 (IANS) As other international tourists give
Australia a miss, Indian tourists are being lured to this
harbour city of blue skies and scenic beaches with travel
packages tailored specifically for the Indian market.
A high-level trade mission from the state of New South Wales
(NSW) is in India this week to tap into the increasing number
of Indians looking for overseas holidays.
Sydney has become one of the favourite destinations for
Indian travellers, be it families, backpackers, honeymooners
or business travellers. Indian holidaymakers find Sydney
one of the cleanest, most user-friendly cities with some of
the finest restaurants and beautiful vistas.
As many as 55,600 overnight visitors from India came to NSW
in the year ending June 2008, an increase of 13.6 percent
over the previous year. Visitors from India stay the longest
of all international visitors to the state, averaging 40 nights
and spending an impressive A$173 million in NSW alone.
"It's a fast growing market. Sydney is such a great fit
for our Indian visitors; they love our fantastic range of
shops, particularly international designer brands, and our
array of stunning sightseeing opportunities and dining experiences,"
said Leslie Cassar, chairperson of Tourism NSW Board, who
is leading the trade mission to India.
Several tourism operators, including the Bradman Museum of
Cricket in the Southern Highlands as well as major attractions
and accommodation such as BridgeClimb, Taronga Zoo, Sydney
Showboats and Accor Asia Pacific, are in India from Sep 12
to 20 to showcase the best of NSW.
"We've designed round-trip itineraries from Sydney to
take advantage of Indians' love of cricket and nature. Features
include Grand Pacific Drive, the Illawarra Fly Tree Top Walk,
Morton National Park and Bowral's Bradman Museum of Cricket
and Centennial Vineyards," said Tourism Southern Highlands
Executive Manager Steve Rosa, who is part of the trade mission
travelling to New Delhi and Mumbai this week.
In recent years, several Bollywood films have been set in
NSW, spurring travel interest in the state. Besides the superhit
"Chak de India", the other Indian films showcasing
NSW sights include "Bachna Ae Haseeno", "Heyy
Babyy" and the India-Pakistani venture "Virsa".
The World Heritage listed Blue Mountains, the sandy beaches
of the long coastline, and internationally acclaimed wineries
of the Hunter Valley have been popular with Indian visitors,
who spent A$465 million in Australia during the past year.
As the Australian travel industry battles deterrents of a
competitive dollar, limited capacity on international flights,
surging oil prices and people becoming more conscious of leaving
their carbon footprint on the planet, it is hoping tourists
from Asia, which is forecast to be the fastest growing outbound
travel region in the next decade, will help turn the tide
of plummeting holidaymakers.
Indian visitors to Australia are expected to increase from
95,000 in 2007 to 440,000 in 2017, an average annual growth
of 16.5 percent.
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