Former Australian cricket great now plays for Australian tourism in growing India

Former Australian Test, One Day and Twenty20 cricketing great, Brett Lee, is lending his support to Australia’s tourism continued push in India, joining Tourism Australia’s 'Friends of Australia' advocacy program

Online PR News – 07-September-2012 – 06.09.2012 Mumbai, Maharastra – Former Australian Test, One Day and Twenty20 cricketing great, Brett Lee, is lending his support to Australia’s tourism continued push in India, joining Tourism Australia’s 'Friends of Australia' advocacy program to promote the country’s tourism experiences to a growing market of Indian travellers.

In his debut as a Friend of Australia, Brett Lee welcomed more than 70 of India’s leading travel agents in Melbourne with a personalised tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground and dinner at the iconic cricketing stadium to share his career highlights. The agents are participating in the six-day India Mega Famil and Workshop (IMFW) being hosted in Australia until September 06, 2012.

Jointly hosted by Tourism Australia and Tourism Victoria the IMFW 2012 marks the second time the major tourism business event has been held in Australia. India represents a major visitor market for Australia and Victoria in particular. The participants will also visit a number of other Australian states as part of the familiarisation visit.

Brett Lee - recently retired from international cricket - is a popular figure in Indian sport and culture, during both his cricketing career representing Australia and now playing for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL), in addition to his music pursuits and growing his Mewsic Foundation in India.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said it was a tremendous coup to secure Brett Lee’s support to best harness the tourism opportunities for Australia from India, now rising to a top 10 international visitor market to Australia.

“India is a market that continues to deliver steady growth for Australian tourism and we are delighted to have someone of Brett Lee’s calibre to further raise the profile of Australia in India and to help us best align to our year 2020 target to secure higher visitor growth from this rising market," Mr McEvoy said.

India is currently Australia's 10th largest tourism market, worth A$0.8 billion in 2011 and delivering a record 152,000 visitors in the last financial year to 30 June 2012.

“India has great long term potential for Australian tourism and we continue to support its development via our recently launched India Strategic 2020 Plan to grow the Indian visitor market to Australia to more than A$2 billion and up to 300,000 potential annual visitors by the end of the decade.

“Brett Lee has a huge profile in India, but also possesses deep credibility by demonstrating a high level of engagement and embracing Indian culture, as a result of his stellar cricketing career and ambassadorial and charity work in country. We are thrilled to have his support to tell more Indians why they should visit Australia for their next long haul holiday,” Mr McEvoy said.

In becoming a Friend of Australia, Brett Lee joins a high profile group of more than 160 advocates enlisted by Tourism Australia to help promote Australia’s many and diverse tourism experiences to potential visitors.

“Tourism Australia has created the Friends of Australia program to harness the power of bright and influential people who are making a name for themselves on the world stage, and who have a genuine affinity with Australia,” Mr McEvoy said.

Brett Lee said: “Having travelled to India some 60 plus times, I now look forward, as a Friend of Australia ambassador, to encouraging Indians to visit this wonderful country and experience all that Australia has to offer.”

The travel agents and tour operators participating in the famil visit are among the top sellers of Australian holidays in Mumbai, Delhi and other major secondary cities in India. During their time in Australia they have already experienced Sydney and the Hunter Region (NSW), the Gold Coast (Queensland), Perth and Fremantle (Western Australia), and will now disperse throughout Victoria.

Following the Melbourne leg of their visit, where they are meeting with Australian tourism product suppliers, a number of agents will also visit The Whitsundays, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef (Queensland), Adelaide, the Barossa Valley and Kangaroo Island (South Australia).

As part of the Tourism 2020 strategy the Australian tourism industry is looking to grow the India travel market to as much as A$2.3 billion in overnight expenditure by 2020.