Over 70 Indian travel agents have gathered here to experience Australian holidays as part of an event organised by Tourism Australia to tap Indian travellers for its 842 million dollar tourism industry, which was hit after a series of attacks on Indian students.
"Australia is still a dream destination for Indian travellers and we are here to get a feel of holiday experience so that we can sell it to Indian travellers," Ashok H Lalchandani told at India Mega Famil and Workshop 2012 function held last night.
"Even though Australia is an expensive destination but it is seen as a different destination for an Indian traveller," he said, adding the issue of attacks on Indian students in recent years which had tarnished Australia's image was now an old story and would have no effect on their visiting plans.
"The Australian government has been trying very hard to rebuild their image and one or two issue will not deter the Indian travellers plan," he said.
Echoing similar sentiments General Manager (Products contracting & operations) of Kuoni Travel's Sunita Amarnani said that an Indian traveller today was looking at a different experience and Australia had a lot to offer for such segment, specially honeymooners and visiting friends and relatives.
"As a travel operators we are here to experience the new travel products of Australia, specially offbeat destinations like Snow and Ski experience of Mt Buller near Melbourne, which Indians are interested in now," she said.
The visiting travel operators were welcomed by Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson, Victoria's tourism and major events minister Louise Asher and Tourism Australia head Andrew McEvoy.
Speaking on the occasion, Ferguson told the agents that India was an important trade partner for Australia.
"India is a market with immense potential and is growing quickly with 68,300 visitors to Australia till May 2012, an increase of 5.2 per cent on the same period last year," Ferguson added.
"Indian travellers really enjoy the combination of our nature, people and food and shopping experiences," he said.
"I recently reconfirmed our commitment to this market by launching the India 2020 Strategy, a strategy which will help the India market reach its growth potential to be worth up to 2.3 billion dollars by 2020," he said.
Asher also welcomed Indian travel operators and said Victorian Coalition Government was pleased that the state won the opportunity to stage and support this important Tourism Australia event in Melbourne.
Indians visit to Australia have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 12.3 per cent over the last decade.
McEvoy said the time was right for Tourism Australia to invest more to maintain its presence and enable the industry to better leverage a future competitive advantage.