New Delhi: With airlines like Air India planning to launch non-stop flights to Australia in a few months, a study has estimated that the growth in air traffic between the two countries would require an additional 3,45,000 seats by 2020.
Currently, there are no direct flights between the two countries and most Indian travellers pass through Singapore, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur to visit Australia.
"It is estimated that an extra 345,000 seats will be required by 2020 to meet the expected demand from India," the study by Tourism Australia said, adding that its aviation development strategy would focus on developing air traffic from Delhi and Mumbai.
Indian and Australian airlines, at present, serve the route through code-share arrangement, though "sufficient capacity is available for airlines of both sides to commence services should they choose to," the report said.
Air India plans to launch non-stop flights to Melbourne and Sydney this October end.
Keeping the demand in mind, Tourism Australia would work with Indian and other carriers to identify opportunities for the Australia-India route and provide partnership solutions to facilitate growth of Indian tourism in Australia, Tourism Australia MD Andrew McEvoy said.
"In the short-term, the focus will be on Delhi and Mumbai, ensuring marketing and distribution are optimised. Four additional cities have been identified for possible targeted marketing and strengthening of distribution. By focusing resources more tightly, better marketing cut through is expected to have greater impact in the two major centres," the study said.
It said India was expected to contribute up to 1.9 billion Australian dollars (AUD) annually to Australia's tourism market over the next eight years, it said, while identifying the target customer as "affluent, mid-life travellers who are self-employed, highly qualified and senior executives at multinational companies."
India, which is Australia's 10th most valuable inbound tourism market, contributed "AUD 867 million to the Australian economy in 2011. By 2020, this market has the potential to contribute between AUD 1.9 and AUD 2.3 billion annually," the report said.
Starting from a low base of 41,000 in 2000, Indian arrivals 'Down Under' grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 12.3 percent to reach 148,200 visitors in 2011.
"In the tourism 2020 projections, India has the second fastest rate of growth, behind China, however from a much smaller base," it said.
At present, the report said, the number of Indian visitors for holiday is smaller -- only 19 percent of visitors compared to the average of 44 percent of visitors from other countries.
Tourism Australia is the Australian government agency responsible for attracting international visitors to Australia and encouraging Australians to travel domestically, both for leisure and business events.
First Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012, 10:41