Q. How important is the Indian market? How do you rate its potential, and what kind of growth have you witnessed in the last two years?
India was rated as one of the fastest growing markets for Queensland, with the state recording a 37 per cent increase in Indian visitor arrivals for the year ending March 2014. Out of 41,000 Indian visitors to Queensland, Whitsundays (coastal region of Queensland) attracted less than 5,000 visitors. However, we have witnessed a steady growth in the number of Indian visitors in the past three years and we see huge potential in the Indian market for future growth. Two of the region’s largest resort islands (Whitsundays is made up of 74 islands) Hamilton and One&Only Hayman are very active in the Indian market. These are quite popular and enjoy good business from India. Apart from tourism, India is potential market in terms of garnering investments in Whitsundays. We have a large Indian company, which has invested in this region in the natural resources sector and this investment provides direct benefits to the economy of the region.
Q. What is the USP of the region?
A. Whitsundays is known as a tropical island holiday destination and is very popular for honeymoons and destination weddings, a USP we promote globally. The gateway to the beautiful Whitsunday Islands and heart of the Great Barrier Reef, Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Coast are the ideal romantic getaways for those that desire a few days or a few weeks away from bustle. With blue skies and blue water, the magic of the Coast provides scope for diverse activities and experiences. There are also choices for accommodation like Bed & Breakfast establishments, motels, hotels, five-star apartments or luxury resorts. One can simply relax by the pool or go sailing, and for the more adventurous at heart, enjoy the thrill of deep sea diving, ocean rafting at high speed or sky diving. Apart from the bigger resort islands, Airlie, a relatively undiscovered honeymoon destination, has in recent years emerged as a fierce competitor to the islands by acting as the ‘gateway’ to the Whitsunday Islands, the Great Barrier Reef, day and overnight sailing trips and all the attractions available in and around the Whitsunday Coast.
Q. How are you positioning and planning to promote Whitsundays in the Indian market?
A. We are working closely with Tourism & Events Queensland in all the priority international markets including India. This includes trade and media visits to ensure consumer awareness of the region is increased, and so is product knowledge. Leisure, Honeymooners, Families and HNIs are our target segments in India, with metros being the focus areas. While MICE is not a priority segment for this organisation from the Indian market, some of our island resorts are well equipped to cater to this segment and are actively pursuing the business, especially One&Only Hayman and Hamilton Island. We also plan to create holiday packages and work on promoting the same through Australian inbound tour operators to leverage on the opportunities created by the ICC Cricket World Cup to be hosted in Australia and New Zealand early next year. We will work closely with Tourism & Events Queensland and Tourism Australia for the same.
Q. What plans have been chalked out to engage the Indian travel trade? Are there plans to introduce a destination specialist online training programme?
A. Currently, we have not worked out any independent plan to engage the travel trade in India. Our strategy right now is to work with Tourism & Events Queensland and Tourism Australia and collaborate on opportunities to support trade FAM visits or media visits. We have our visitor’s guide available through Tourism & Events Queensland, and where needed, we support activities of our destination suppliers who are active in the market