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Australia launches big bang outreach to India – Maitri initiatives and T20 World Cup will woo Indians Down Under

Australia on Monday called India as one of its "most important" partners in the Indo-Pacific region (Images courtesy: PIB and Australian Foreign Ministry)

As Australia reopens its international borders to fully vaccinated tourists and business travellers from February 21, it is looking at India – its fastest-growing source of international visitors – to revitalise its tourism industry, especially during the T20 Cricket World Cup later this year.

Over 800,000 fans are expected to attend the ICC T20 cricket extravaganza, which Australia will host for the first time in October.

Such has been the buzz surrounding the event, in particular to see one of the world cricket’s biggest rivalries, that the general ticket allocations for India vs Pakistan encounter at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 22 were sold within five minutes of going on sale, last week.

"Hosting the T20 cricket World Cup this year will be a fantastic opportunity to encourage more Indian tourists and business travellers to visit Australia," Dan Tehan, the country's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, said following extensive meetings with India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal in New Delhi.

The Australia-India Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Tourism Cooperation was renewed over the weekend as both ministers also launched the Australia India Infrastructure Forum.

The renewed MoU will promote travel between the two markets and advance cooperation on tourism policy, data sharing, training and industry engagement. Pre-pandemic, India was Australia’s fastest-growing source of international visitors. In 2019, almost 400,000 visitors from India visited Australia and spent a combined total of $1.8 billion.

Tehan said that Australia will strengthen its tourism links with India to further increase visitor numbers and support local jobs and business by growing one of its largest and most valuable tourist markets. Both governments will also work with airlines and airports to boost aviation capacity between Australia and India.

India Australia

As Goyal and Tehan held negotiations on India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), Canberra said the Indian visitor market had huge potential for Australia.

"Our countries also share important people-to-people links, with around 750,000 people of Indian origin calling Australia home. Australia is working with India to strengthen our ties in many areas, and it’s timely to include tourism as Australia reopens its international borders to the world," remarked Tehan.

The Australia India Infrastructure Forum will serve as a hub to promote two-way investment in infrastructure. It will also support broader trade and investment objectives with a new $5.8 million Bay of Bengal Connectivity Partnership expanding the work to other countries in the region.

These initiatives, Australia said, reflect the two nations’ shared commitment to cooperation and exchange, as set out in the Australia-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, agreed in June 2020. 

India Australia

Maitri initiatives launched

Earlier today, the Scott Morrison government detailed the new initiatives between the two countries, calling India "one of Australia’s most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region".

It revealed that, following meetings between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in Melbourne, three Maitri (friendship) initiatives have been launched to foster Australia-India cooperation, creativity, understanding and exchange.

The series of new initiatives support education, community, tourism and investment links, adding to the growing bilateral relationship.

The $11.2 million Maitri Scholarships Programme will attract and support high achieving Indian students to study at Australian universities. It will showcase Australia’s globally renowned academic and research institutions, particularly in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health, the Australian Foreign Ministry detailed.

The $3.5 million Maitri Grants and Fellowships Programme will build links between future leaders, supporting mid-career Australian and Indian professionals to collaborate on strategic research and shared priorities.

The $6.1 million Australia-India Maitri Cultural Partnership will boost the role of creative industries in economic and people-to-people ties. This partnership will also promote artistic talent and cultural exchanges in two countries’ world class visual and performing arts, literature, film, television and music industries.

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