A M!CE story for India

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Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager, India, Tourism Australia, claims easy visa and increased connectivity does the trick for Australia as it becomes one of the most preferred M!CE destinations for Indians.

Nisha Verma

With so many countries vying for India’s M!CE pie, it remains one of the most coveted M!CE markets for destinations around the world. Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager- India, Tourism Australia, could not agree more. “Today, India is considered one of the fastest growing major economies in the world, and as a result, the business travel and M!CE sector is on the rebound. According to a recent American Express survey, 41 per cent of Indian businesses travelled to attend, host or present at conferences and events in 2023,” he claimed.

Incentives at large

Sharing details on how Tourism Australia is attracting Indian groups, he says, “In an effort to welcome more delegates to Australia from India, the Australia High Commission in New Delhi provides a streamlined and personalised visa process for large corporate or incentive groups. Plus, there has been a significant boost in flight options between Australia and India, with Air India and Qantas tripling direct aviation capacity between the two countries. The introduction of three non-stop Mumbai-Melbourne flights per week by Air India will further enhance accessibility. Business Events Australia also has a Bid Fund Programme, which is designed to increase the conversion of bids for new international business events for Australia through the offer of financial support at the critical bidding stage. Of the 26 incentive events won from around the world as a result of Bid Fund support, five are from India, worth US$26.2mn in total.”

The big showcase

Dreamtime 2023 recently concluded in Adelaide, which saw Indian M!CE agents meet with representatives from Australian event industry. Speaking on the same, he adds, “We know from previous Dreamtime events that the showcase delivers tangible results. The 2017 event, held in Brisbane, generated 200 business leads, of which 73 converted into business worth US$50 million. And even with the disruption of the Australian bushfires and the pandemic, Dreamtime 2019 in Perth generated 36 business leads in three months worth US$97 million. It may be noted here that agents that can experience a destination firsthand, understand the offering better, and therefore, can sell better it better.”

Big on incentives

When it comes to Indian incentive groups, there are specific requirements for service, food and experiences. Kashikar emphasizes that Tourism Australia leaves no stone unturned to cater to the same. “We find that due to India’s proximity to Australia compared with other key markets, business events groups from India often have a better understanding of Australia and its offering, and so groups often explore further. Cricket tests and tournaments can influence destination and programme selections, and timings. We have found groups from India often align their incentive programme with sporting events such as cricket Test series or T20 tournaments,” he adds.

Promotions galore

Informing about the initiatives they take in India for boosting the M!CE numbers, he says, “My team here in Mumbai keeps in touch with significant planners and decision-makers,  we hold business events and seminars to help educate planners on the business events offering in Australia, and regularly host planners on Familiarisation trips to Australia such as the Business Events Australia mega-famil earlier this year. Our incentive inspiration magazine Australia Next, shares ideas on new restaurants, hotels, experiences, destinations and suppliers across Australia, to help planners arrange their next event.”

Groundbreaking recovery

Affirming the importance of Indian market for Australia, Kashikar continued.  “In reference to the leisure travel market, the country was the first global market to return to pre-COVID arrival numbers. The latest arrivals data from India to Australia is on par with the 2019 levels and spend is higher compared with pre-pandemic travel,” he said.

Australia Next

“Business Events Australia would like to maintain the strong momentum generated since Australia’s borders reopened, and continue to cement Australia’s attractiveness as the preferred long-haul M!CE destination amongst Indians corporates and business events planners,” asserts Kashikar.

He informs further, “To continue rebuilding a pipeline of global business events, our incentive showcase will return in 2024 with an additional event to take place in Cairns, and the incentive showcase will be renamed Australia Next. We look forward to welcoming a group of Indian agents to Cairns for Australia Next in 2024.”

“The latest arrivals data from India to Australia is on par with 2019 levels and spend is higher compared with pre-pandemic travel.”

Nishant Kashikar, Country Manager, India, Tourism Australia

We have found groups from India often align their incentive programme with sporting events such as cricket test series or T20 tournaments

Dreamtime 2023

Dreamtime 2023 has been driving solid results for Australia, generating 149 business leads to date, worth AUD $79 million.

Post-event survey results

  • 100% buyers satisfied with the event
  • 100% buyers were more likely to consider Australia
  • 100% buyers likely to send an incentive or corporate meeting to Australia
  • 100% Australian industry sellers satisfied
  • 90% sellers intend to sell more after event