The travel industry, battered by the coronavirus pandemic, is betting big on the ICC Men's T20 World Cup to be held in Australia in October.
The slam-bang cricket tournament will not only boost India's outbound travel market but also bring incremental visitors to Australia, which hosts the event. The tournament is expected to bring about 20,000 Indian visitors in 2022, Tourism Australia's top official said.
"When Australia hosted 50-over World Cup in 2015 and when in 2018 and 2019 Indian team travelled to the country, it helped to raise awareness and attractiveness for Australia. Every time Indian cricket team has travelled to Australia, we have seen the halo effect which lasts beyond the actual event," Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager, India and Gulf, Tourism Australia, told Moneycontrol.
The championship will be played from October 16 to November 16.
He said that the games which will be held in Adelaide Oval, which has a capacity of more than 55,000, The Brisbane Cricket ground (42,000), Geelong's Kardinia Park (40,000), Hobart (20,000) and Perth (over 61,000) will operate at 100 percent capacity.
In addition, the Sydney Cricket Ground, where the semi-finals will be played and which has a capacity of more than 48,000, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which can seat more than one lakh and will host the final will, will operate at full capacity.
Australia opened its borders to all visitors from February 21, 2022 after one of the most stringent and prolonged lockdowns.
Kashikar expects arrivals from India and spends by Indian tourists to reach pre-COVID levels by 2023. They were seeing strong booking, an indication that the numbers could reach pre-COVID levels, he said.
"The immediate task is to achieve 400,000 visitors and 1.8 billion-dollar spends by Indian tourists in Australia in the first full year of operations that means by March 2023," he said.
There should be enough capacity for Indians to travel to Australia, he said. The pandemic has hammered the aviation industry and hit flight operations across the globe.
"Today Singapore and Malaysian airlines have just reinstated 50 percent of their capacity. Unless this cap is reinstated back to pre-COVID level, it is going to be difficult to reach pre-pandemic level numbers," Kashikar said.
More Indians head Down Under
In 2019, Australia saw 400,000 visitors from India and the market emerged as the sixth most valuable for spend, contributing A$ 1.8 billion (over Rs 10,000 crore approximately).
Kashikar expects India to enter the list of top five markets for Australia.
"Between 2010 and 2019, India moved up from 12th market to number six market for spends and seven for arrivals. We (India) should either be the second or third market for Australia by 2030 because if we are in the league of one million visitor market (with a spend of A$ 5 billion by 2030) then there are only two other countries that deliver those kind of numbers including China and New Zealand," he added.
It is estimated that India will achieve 1.2 million visitors to Australia by 2035 with a spend of A$ 9 billion.
Kashikar expects the average spend by an Indian tourist in Australia to be higher than pre-COVID spends of A$ 5,000. He is also banking on the revival in corporate travel pointing out that Australia has got corporate groups confirmed for the next three months.
Industry estimates suggest that India's outbound tourism market is set to surpass USD 40 billion by 2026 with a double-digit growth rate during the forecast period 2021 - 2026, according to Research and Markets, a research firm.
It is expected that India, which saw outbound travellers increase from 11 million in 2009 to 27 million in 2019, will see a full recovery and reach 28.5 million outbound travellers by 2025.
Kashikar pointed out the growth the Indian market had seen in Australia over the years. He said that India was the fastest-growing market for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018. India had five consecutive years of double-digit growth in arrivals and spends grew at 18 percent since 2014.