Sydney Harbour

Air India made its long-awaited return to Australia on Friday, August 30, with the launch of direct Boeing 787 Dreamliner services from New Delhi to Sydney and Melbourne.

The services have been welcomed by Tourism Australia Managing Director, Andrew McEvoy, who said securing direct flights was essential if Australia was to secure its share of the 50 million Indians expected to be travelling outside of their own country by the end of this decade.

“India is one of our fastest growing inbound markets, particularly amongst leisure travellers, who have Australia high up on their wish list of international holiday destinations,” he said.

“With Indian arrivals up nearly eight per cent so far this year, the demand is clearly there and I have little doubt that Air India’s re-entry into the Australian market will be widely and warmly applauded by both Indian travellers and by tourism operators here in Australia.”

McEvoy paid particular tribute to Sydney and Melbourne Airports, Destination New South Wales and Tourism Victoria for helping to secure Air India’s return to the Australian market after an absence of 16 years.

787 Charleston Air India DeliveryK65729

The commencement of Air India’s new ‘triangular’ service, operating between Delhi and Sydney and Melbourne, follows the release this week by Tourism Australia of new research aimed at helping the Australian tourism industry tap into the future tourism potential of a market estimated to be worth up to AUD$2.3 billion for Australia by the end of the decade.

The research was carried out in six of India’s fastest growing cities and is being used by Tourism Australia to further shape its 10-year marketing plan for India.

The release of the findings comes as the latest international visitor arrival and spending figures confirm India’s status as one of Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable international tourism markets, with 164,000 visitors (up 7.8 per cent on the year ending June 2012) contributing AUD$800, million to the Australian economy in overnight spending.

McEvoy said under its India 2020 tourism plan, Tourism Australia had already doubled its marketing spend in India this year, and had made progress towards creating a sustainable, competitive aviation market between Australia and India as one of its key priorities.

By 2020, Tourism Australia believes the market has the potential to rise in annual value to up to AUD$2.3 billion and deliver 300,000 annual visitors.