ADITYA Hitkari fell in love with Australia as a young actor on his first overseas film shoot.
A few years later, he returned with new wife Divya Palat for their honeymoon.
Now, the one-time MTV Asia video jockey, theatre actor, producer and model and his theatre director wife are at the heart of a Tourism Australia campaign to improve Australia’s image in India following the attacks on Indian students in Melbourne in 2009 and lure wealthy Indian tourists down under.
Tourism Australia is expected to spend close to $25 million on China and India next year. Spending on India is set to double to $8m.
And why not? Australia may not be the No 1 destination for Indian tourists, but for Australia they are increasingly valuable. In the year to June, Indian visitors spent $899m here. The average spending by Indian visitors was $6625.
Indian visitors stay nearly twice as long as other tourists, averaging 68 nights compared with the global average of 35 nights. This is because a lot of Indian tourists come to Australia to visit family and friends.
In the year to September 30, Indian visitors to Australia increased 9 per cent to 145,000 compared with a year ago.
Tourism Forecasting Council predicts Indian visitors will total 153,000 this year, compared with 138,700 last year.
Hitkari and Palat, who swept the Melbourne and Sydney Fringe Festival awards last month, are joined in Tourism Australia’s India campaign by Vikrant Kapoor, chef and partner in the Zaaffran restaurant in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
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