Racial violence in Melbourne has seriously damaged a Geelong campaign to entice Indian tourists to the region.
Geelong Otway tourism chief Roger Grant said a string of attacks on Indian students, including the fatal stabbing of Nitin Garg in Footscray at the weekend, had hurt a campaign to lead Indian tourists out of Melbourne.
“Australians have always been seen as accepting, friendly and tolerant people and these attacks have changed that perception,” Mr Grant said.
“Indian and Chinese tourists are more reluctant to leave Melbourne on their trips to Australia and we have been trying to get them to visit regional Victoria.
“Now they may have concerns about their safety and if they have any doubts they simply won’t come, and that hurts.”
The Indian Government announced yesterday it would consider putting up a travel warning about Australia after the attack.
Mr Grant said safety issues, coupled with the long-haul nature of a trip to Australia, would have potential tourists thinking twice about visiting.
“There’s nothing stopping these tourists from going somewhere else and unfortunately some of them will,” Mr Grant said.
“Australia is still safe compared to other places but there is a lot of work to be done to get that trust back.”
Tourism Australia’s forecasting agency has predicted a 20 per cent drop in the number of Indians studying in Australia this year, most of who contribute to the tourism economy.
Victoria Tourism Industry Council chairman Jeremy Johnson said the state and federal governments needed to take more action to ensure the safety of Indian tourists and students.
“India is a key overseas student market and tourism market for Victoria,” Mr Johnson said.
“The prospects of Indian travel warnings is a major worry.
“Everyone, local residents and visitors, deserves safe streets where they can go about their business without fear of acts of random violence.”