NEW DELHI: After England, Australia is now going all out to have the “sea of blue” of Indian supporters at its stadia when the continent hosts ICC T20 World Cup next year. Australia plans to draw as many visitors from India as possible for the twin events — men’s World Cup from October 18 to November 15, 2020, which will coincide with Diwali holidays here, and women’s World Cup earlier in the year from February 21 to March 8, 2020.
“We saw 3.6 lakh visitors from India in the year ended March 2019. This is the highest ever visitation from India ever which has been growing constantly over the past few years. In the year ended march 2019, Indian visitors spent Australian $1.7 billion (about Rs 8,300 crore). The increase in visitor number and spend was 14.6% and 12% more than the figures recorded in year ended March 2018,” said Australian government sources.
Australia has set a target of half a million, 5 lakh, visitors from India and it hopes to achieve that with the T20 world cups next year. “In ‘out of region’ (not in neighbourhood) markets, we are the number six destination for Indian travellers after US, UK, Switzerland, France and Hong Kong. While outbound visitors from India are increasing at about 8% annually, we have seen 16% increase in visitors from India over past few years. Today India is the fastest growing inbound market among our top 15 source markets,” the source said.
Among the factors making Australia increasingly popular for Indians is a favourable exchange rate. “This has changed Rs 62 to one Australian Dollar three years back to Rs 48 to a dollar now. An increasing number of Indians comes to Australia coming for varied reasons like studies, working, trained professionals, visiting friends and relatives, and tourists,” the Australian government source said.
With 7.5 lakh people of Indian origin settled there, Tourism Australia says: “The average length of stay for visitors from India was 61 nights (for the year ended march 2019) with 53% repeat visitation. India is the sixth largest source market in terms of expenditure. The average spend per trip for an Indian visitor is about Rs 2.4 lakh.”
Australia has moved to an electronic visa for Indian a couple of years back. “We encourage people to apply for visa online. Processing of visa applications filed electronically is usually faster than that done by submitting papers physically. The visa granted, usually of 12-month duration and multiple entry for visitors, is no longer a sticker but an e-visa,” said the source.
“Unlike other countries, Australia does not require you to attend an office in-person to lodge your (visa) application, provide biometrics or attend an interview and there is no requirement to send us your passport. The entire process can be done online at your convenience. Applying online is the fastest way to get an Australian visa. The average time taken for an online visa to be granted is only 14 days,” added the source.