‘India can be our biggest market’

Destination New South Wales has bold aspirations for the India market – to make it one of its biggest international source markets. Steve Cox, CEO, Destination New South Wales, was in India recently to talk to the travel trade and the airlines to address challenges in terms of air connectivity and destination knowledge, and, of course, visa issue.

Hazel Jain

It was his first visit to India, but Steve Cox, CEO, Destination New South Wales (DNSW), seemed like he was among friends. “I met our trade partners in Mumbai and New Delhi before heading back to Sydney. We are looking to target segments across the board from VFR to MICE and leisure travellers,” he says.

Cox was visiting India as a part of the recently-signed interim Free Trade Agreement between India and Australia, and the ongoing trade relations. The visit was followed by a tourism roundtable with airline partners and tourism trade partners.

Speaking about the roundtable, he says, “It was to talk about our aspirations, about growing our visitor economy between India and New South Wales. We have bold aspirations; we think there is enormous opportunity for operators on both sides. It also about listening to the challenges and the opportunities from our trade partners and airlines, so we can understand the things we need to do to ensure higher numbers.”

The roundtable had 12-14 travel agents, along with a small representation from the airlines. Some common issues came through. “Visas was one of them; the processing time has certainly improved in recent times, but more importantly the issues have been about long-term visas and to possibly offer Indian visitors a longer visa period. However, it is not a state issue and a federal issue. But we will ensure this feedback is taken back to the federal government,” Cox shares.

Another key discussion was around aviation – the number of flights, particularly direct flights, between India and NSW. “We are excited that there is a new flight from Qantas launching in September this year from Bengaluru to Sydney. We are talking to airlines, both here and Australia and encouraging them to get flights on ground,” he reveals.

Sydney now has a brand-new international airport opening in December 2026. This, Cox believes, will be an absolute game-changer for the number of Indian passengers that could be processed at Sydney airport. The second airport will be a 24-hour airport.

Here for the long haul

Cox says, “We are here for the long-haul. The numbers into NSW at the end of 2019 was 440 million AUD worth of visitor expenditure from India. I expect at least a 20 per cent growth every year in the numbers from India to NSW for the next 10 years. That is our target. India is a high repeat visitation market for NSW. India’s ranking as an international source market is currently in the top 10, but we are nowhere close to what is possible. I believe India can be the number one source destination for Australia over the years to come. We have a visitor economy strategy 2030 that sets a really clear vision – we want NSW to be the premier visitor economy of the Asia Pacific, and for that to happen we want to see India grow up to where it should be. It will be either number one or two. In the long term I have absolutely no doubt that India can be the largest market for us, but it has a long way to go.”



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