Sydney: Steve Waugh was on Monday appointed as Australian tourism ambassador to India as the tourism ministry makes a bid to cash on the popularity of the national Test captain.
The move aimed at boosting awareness about Australia’s potential as a holiday destination will primarily target tourists from Mumbai and Delhi, the secondary targets being those from Chennai, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
Minister for small business and tourism Joe Hockey officially announced the appointment of Waugh as Australia’s newest tourism ambassador at the Sydney Cricket Ground here.
On the occasion, Waugh said he was delighted to be working with the Australian Tourist Commission (ATC) to raise the profile of the country as a holiday destination in India.
“For close to two decades I have represented Australia in cricket. It is a great honour now to be chosen also to represent Australia as a tourism ambassador in India,” Waugh said .
“Cricket has provided me the opportunity to travel the world visiting many different countries, but for me Australia is the greatest place on earth to take a holiday.
“I look forward to the opportunity to encourage Indian travellers to enjoy the range of holiday experiences Australia has to offer,” he added.
Australia’s international sportsmen and sportswomen have played an important role in raising the profile of Australia overseas. Waugh now joins swim star Ian Thorpe, celebrity model Megan Gale, and world champion surfer Layne Beachley as the ATC’s Australian tourism ambassadors.
“Cricket is the top sport in India and as one of the greatest cricket players ever, and captain of the Australian team, Steve has achieved celebrity status in this country,” Hockey said.
“In India his popularity extends well beyond the cricket pitch; Steve is well recognised for both his sporting prowess and his compassion an active work for charities.
“He is inextricably linked to Australia and encapsulates much of what is admired in the Australian personality,” he said underlining the reasons behind Waugh’s appointment.
“India is an emerging tourist market and Steve’s endorsements will help to raise the profile of Australia and inspire more Indians to holiday in this country.
Steve has made many runs on the pitch — he will now help to put runs on the board for tourism.
“People in India know that Australia produces some great cricketers but what they don’t know is that it is also a great place to holiday — with Steve’s support we hope to close this gap”, the minister added.
In his new role, Waugh will be featured in a range of promotions aimed at driving Indian travellers to holiday in Australia.
ATC executive general manager, marketing, Stephen O’Neill said the appointment of the Test captain can give a boost to tourism in a big way.
“Our country is particularly popular with high end travellers, including families, and Steve’s broad appeal in this market can help Australia to further boost the numbers of visitors we receive each year,” O’Neill said.
“Steve captures the humble, genuine, and compassionate side of the Australian personality that appeals to visitors to our country and this makes him an ideal ambassador to promote Australia,” he added.
The role of the Australian tourism ambassador will include participation in a range of ATC marketing initiatives targeting key segments of the Indian travel market aimed to build the profile of Australia; online promotions, magazine promotions and publicity events.