Indian travellers are coming to Australia in increasing numbers for romantic honeymoons, the beaches, and to see Aussie icons such as kangaroos. And they love the cricket, of course.
But before travelling here, some Indians are still concerned about their safety because of the widely reported incidents of violence against Indian students in Melbourne in 2009.
This latest profiling of Indian tourists by Tourism Australia comes as figures confirm that India is one of our fastest growing and most valuable international tourism markets, despite any lingering concerns over the violence.
In the past 12 months, there have been 164,000 Indian visitors, up 7.8 percent on the year ending June 2012.
They contributed $804 million to the Australian economy and are tipped to be worth $2.3 billion for Australia by the end of the decade.
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy says there are predicted to be 50 million outbound Indian travellers by 2020.
Tourism Australia has an India trade mission with a 40-strong delegation starting in Goa on Sunday. "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," Mr McEvoy said.
The Tourism Australia research also reveals that Indians’ perceptions of Australia are largely positive.
Indian visitor Rajesh Oswal, here on a 10-day family trip of Melbourne, Sydney, the Gold Coast and Cairns, reaffirms the glowing view.
"I saw it (Australia) on National Geographic on local television at home and it was wonderful. In Melbourne, in particular, it was the cool people and cool lifestyle that I liked. I’ll be recommending Australia when I get back home, I’m sure a lot of our friends will come now," said Mr Oswal, a pharmaceutical distributor from Pune.
Meanwhile, Air India’s daily direct flights from Delhi to Sydney and Melbourne start next Friday when the first ever Dreamliner passenger flight into Australia touches down in Sydney.
WHERE OUR TOURISTS COME FROM
1. New Zealand 1.9 million
2. China 685,100
3. UK 604,000
4. US 492,200
5. Singapore 363,000
6. Japan 339,400
7. Malaysia 268,300
8. Korea 194,600
9. Hong Kong 182,200
10 India 164,000
Figures based on year ending June 2012