India was among the few countries to withstand slowdown

Written by Sajan C Kumar | Updated: Dec 6 2009, 03:40am hrs
It is said that no holiday to Australia is complete without a visit to the sunshine state of Queensland. The state is home to a diverse range of native Australian animals, including kangaroos, koala bears, dolphins, turtles and whales. With its picturesque coastline and perfect climate, it is no surprise that life in Queensland revolves around coastal activities. Wrapping up the flagship road show, Queensland on Tour India 2009 in Chennai, Paul Buggy, regional director, Korea, India, Middle East and South Africa, Tourism Queensland, in an interview with FEs Sajan C Kumar, spoke on his countrys new India-centric initiatives to boost tourist inflow. Excerpts:

How has the response to this edition of Queensland on Tour India (QOT) 2009 been, especially since it comes amid signs of an economic recovery

The response has been very good, with a lot of travel agents keen on promoting Queensland as a preferred destination. This year, our campaign has covered seven cities: New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabab and Chennai. Close to 600 travel agents had been roped in to market Queensland during the road show. Queensland and India share a very strong bond, which has become stronger with each passing year. This is QOTs fifth year and I am sure that Indians are happy with the offers and updates. We have also appointed an ambassador for Tourism Queensland in India and have launched the best holiday in the world campaign as a crucial part of our marketing strategy to help travel agents sell Queensland better. The road show saw 12 Queensland suppliers, representing eminent products from Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast & Tangalooma, introducing new offers for Indian travel agents.

What is your forecast on the inflow of Indian tourists for the next year, based on the feedback you have received during the road show

The year ended September 2009 saw around 2 lakh Indian tourists visiting Queensland. Going forward, we foresee a 16% increase in Indian arrivals for the next year. Though the entire world has undergone a change in spending pattern, including expenses on travel and allied activities, India was one among the few countries which withstood the onslaught of the slowdown. There has almost been a steady inflow of tourists from India even in trying times, probably because Queensland offered cheaper destinations compared to European countries. Taking into consideration the requirements of Indian tourists, we are offering three main types of destinations: leisure, honey-moon, and mass destinations, meant for sight-seeing groups.

Has there been any major shift in the way tourists from India choose the desired destinations

Earlier, tourists from India travelled in groups, resulting in considerable a saving on both travel and stay. Now, this trend has been slowly disappearing, with more and more travellers preferring to tour alone or in couples. Moreover, they have become particular about the value they get out of the tour package, even it means a slightly higher outgo. As far as our tourism packages are concerned it is better valued than any similar European package. Our destinations are unique in nature and offer a never-had-it experience. Since we recognise the Indian market as a potential one, we have constantly made efforts to boost tourist inflow. As part of the strategy, we are trying to scale up connectivity even further and we are also holding talks with prominent airlines to start flights to and from both the countries.

What are the other India-centric campaigns that you plan to undertake

In order to educate tourists, we are launching an India-centric portal in January 2010, which will have all the necessary details to navigate travellers to the right destinations. Moreover, our representative office in India will undertake more awareness campaigns to woo tourists to our country.