Cricket-mad fans a boon to Australia’s economy

Australia’s tourism industry typically thrives during December and January with the season of cricket and the Australian Open offering a boost to the economy.

Last year, record numbers of tourists flocked to Australia, with a 20% increase in visitors from India, according to the latest figures by Tourism Research Australia.

“We’ve seen a massive increase in Indian visitors and you’ve got that huge growing middle class who are cricket fanatics,” said Margy Osmond, CEO of the Tourism and Transport Forum.

In the last 12 months alone, fans from India injected a massive $1.2 billion dollars into Australia while visiting for the last tour. Last year’s Ashes test brought in around $114 million into the economy, and that’s expected to grow.

While many Indian tourists schedule visits to Australia in time to watch their favourite game, most stay for around an average of two months, Osmond said. That makes them an important sector for Australia’s economy, with many choosing to extend travel plans to other parts of the country.

The ancillary to this is the enormous social media following of India’s cricketers, as well as their wives. Indian captain Virat Kohli has more than 27 million followers on Twitter while wife and Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma has a following of almost 23 million on Instagram. Osmond says that within the Indian and Chinese markets, social media is playing an even bigger role to attract tourists than traditional advertising campaigns: “Social media is king.”

While the summer sporting season sees a swift injection of money into tourism, the trickle-down benefits are also enormous. “This is a long-term exercise because what will happen is, particularly the Indian population, are likely to visit more than once. And quite often a leisure visit means they decide to send their kids to school here or invest here,” said Osmond. “So, there’s lots of return visitation opportunities, this is by no means a once off.”