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NEW DELHI :  

Tourism Australia is banking on the India-Pakistan cricket clash at the ICC T20 World Cup in October in Melbourne to draw visitors from India. The World Cup will be played in Australia in October and November.

India was the second-biggest market for tourists to Australia after New Zealand in May, the peak Indian summer holiday period. Australia reopened its borders in February after the pandemic eased.

Tourism Australia’s Brent Anderson, regional general manager for Southeast Asia, said the country expects to receive 400,000 visitors by June next year, matching the pre-covid level. “With the closure of China, India has become more important. By 2030, India will be the No. 1 tourist market for us," he said.

During the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, Australia saw 10,000 people travel to the country from India. It expects 18,000-20,000 Indians to travel for the 2022 edition. “This is because it coincides with the Diwali and school holiday period. It also coincides with the wedding and honeymoon season out of India and with Australia opening its borders for quarantine-free travel," said Nishant Kashikar, Tourism Australia’s country manager for India.

“We have also seen a tripling of direct aviation capacity on India-Australia routes," Kashikar said.

According to the tourism body, the visa issuing process is also being accelerated as this is a major barrier for travellers.

DreamSetGo, a sports travel firm owned by Dream11, said it aims to send about 5,000 Indians to Australia over the next 12 months and 75% of them will attend the T20 World Cup. “When it comes to Indians, especially what we are looking at as official agents, we’re seeing that the maximum demand is for the India matches because our focus has been on sports and to sell to Indians. So, a majority of the demand is around the India games. There is also likely to be the game against the West Indies," said Monish Shah, the company’s co-founder.

Before the pandemic, India was one of the fastest growing inbound markets for Australia across all international markets for three consecutive years (2017-19) with arrivals growing at an annual average rate of 15% and spending growing at an annual rate of 17% between 2014 and 2019. It recorded 400,000 visitor arrivals for the year ended February 2020 from India who contributed Australian $1.8 billion to the economy.

According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, India’s outbound tourism market is set to surpass $40 billion by 2026, with a double-digit growth rate during the forecast period of 2021 through 2026.

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