By Robyn Molloy

Ease of doing business with India is a step closer after Tourism Minister Paul Papalia, WA Tourism’s senior aviation advisor Andrew McEvoy and Perth Airport CEO Kevin Brown held talks with airlines in India to push for direct flights this week.

The trip to Delhi and Mumbai follows a meeting with key businesses in Perth last week – including CCI – who support the move and are either currently engaged with India or looking to pursue trade and investment opportunities.

CCI’s International Trade and Investment Centre Manager Michael Carter said it was universally agreed at the meeting that direct flights create in an inflow of more tourists, investors, students and business people between two countries.

“Having direct flights is really an opportunity to ensure that the Indian Ocean binds us and doesn’t separate us because we both share many values and business agendas on either side of the Indian Ocean,” he said.

“The discussion around promoting and prosecuting the idea of having a direct flight really ties in with the increasing level of awareness within business circles in India and Australia to recognise we have more in common beyond cricket, Commonwealth and curry.”

The Federal Government – in its ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ report released last month – identifies India as the biggest single market for growth opportunities for Australia, with India’s population set to overtake China’s by 2035. 

Carter said the report highlights the burgeoning opportunities in many industry sectors towards 2030 between the two nations.

He said opportunities lay within a number of relevant industry sectors between India and WA including: transnational higher education and the VET sector; mining and METS; agribusiness and premium food; infrastructure and smart city development; and aged care and medico.

About 144,000 passengers already travel between WA and India each year and there has been a 65 per cent growth in the Indian-born population in WA in the past six years, according to the State Government.

The WA delegation will meet representatives from Air India, IndiGo, Spice Jet, Jet Airways and Vistara Airline, while Papalia will also meet with India’s Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu. 

“This will be the first time that the WA Government has been involved in high level meetings with Indian airlines to start discussions about direct flights between the two destinations,” Papalia said.

“A direct flight would unlock many opportunities between India and Western Australia – especially in tourism and international education.

“The number of Indian visitors to the State has been growing at an average of 16.9 per cent over the past three years, and there are also more international students from India than from any other country undertaking tertiary studies in Perth.

“A non-stop service between the two destinations would also further grow business and trade opportunities, particularly around our world-class, fresh and safe produce.”

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