Melbourne, Sep 3 (IANS) With Air India launching daily direct flights from New Delhi to Melbourne and Sydney after a gap of 16 years, the governments of Victoria and New South Wales are strategising to woo the maximum number of Indian tourists.
Victoria's Premier Denis Napthine and his New South Wales counterpart Barry O'Farrell are not the only Australians in the efforts to secure their share of the projected 50-million-strong Indian tourists' market.
While government-owned Tourism Australia is spearheading the campaign to attract the maximum number of Indian travellers, the state tourism promotional bodies, Tourism Victoria and Destination NSW, are not sparing any efforts or resources to get planeloads of Indian tourists.
The landing of an Air India Boeing-787 Dreamliner in Melbourne and Sydney on Aug 29 was marked by a number of public functions and media conferences. Two separate media conferences were organised at Melbourne's Tullamarine and Sydney's Kingsford Smith international airports to mark the much-awaited launching of flights.
New South Wales also organised a cultural show to welcome the direct flights.
Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase said: "I'm delighted to welcome Air India to Sydney and NSW. Air India's decision to schedule four direct flights per week to Sydney recognises NSW's status as Australia's premier state for international tourism, visitation and visitor expenditure."
"To year-end March 2013, more than 71,000 visitors from India travelled to NSW, spending more than three million nights - with most visitors coming to see family and friends, followed by holiday makers and business travellers."
"Destination NSW estimates that Air India's new daily Dreamliner service will add more than 890 extra seats from India each week into Sydney, or more than 46,000 seats per year, which could contribute more than A$30 million into the NSW economy per year," she added.
"India is a very important market for New South Wales and I am pleased to welcome and support the new Air India service to Sydney," NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said earlier.
Tourism Victoria also responded to Air India re-spreading its wings Down Under by hosting a public function at the fabled Melbourne Cricket Ground on Monday.
India's acting Consul General in Melbourne Nirmal Chaudhary also attended the function on his first day in office. Victoria's Premier Denis Napthine and a number of public and corporate identities were also present on the occasion.
The Air India service will operate on the Delhi-Sydney-Melbourne route four days a week, and on the Delhi-Melbourne-Sydney route on the other three days.
(Paritosh Parasher can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)