Mumbai, July 4 (IANS) Air India's plans to resume direct flights to Sydney and Melbourne in August after a 16-year gap will boost tourism to Australia, a top official of Tourism Australia said here Thursday.
"The key to unlocking India's long-term tourism potential is improved air access and capacity. Securing directs flights to Australia is critical to securing a share of the 50 million Indian tourists expected to travel overseas by 2020," said Tourism Australia's Managing Director Andrew McEvoy.
Air India is expected to launch a triangular New Delhi-Sydney-Melbourne route from Aug 29, deploying the new Dreamliner aircraft.
The New Delhi-Sydney-Melbourne flights will be operated four times a week and the New Delhi-Melbourne-Sydney service will be thrice a week.
In 2012, some 160,000 Indian tourists visited Australia and that country hopes to nearly double the figure by 2020.
"Preliminary analysis suggests we shall need around 345,000 additional seats to meet the expected demand for Australia from India out to 2020. On top of the capacity that already exists, these new, proposed direct services by Air India represent a huge boost in realising the full potential of this important market," said McEvoy.
On its part, Tourism Australia under its India 2020 tourism plan, has already doubled its marketing spend in India this year, and prioritised creating a sustainable, competitive aviation market between Australia and India.
In 2012, around 160,000 Indians who visited Australia spent nearly A$800 million. Tourism Australia believes the market has the potential to rise in annual value to up to A$2.3 billion and deliver 300,000 annual visitors by 2020, McEvoy said.