Unleashing the potential of Australia and New Zealand

An Inbound Tour Operator that specialises in providing travel services for Australia and New Zealand¸ Turtle Down Under managed to survive the pandemic by going into hibernation for a period of time, during which they continued to pay their staff and did not downsize. The company emerged from this period stronger and better than before, with a team of 20 now servicing their Indian agents that are based in Mumbai. We spoke with Abhishek Sonthalia, Managing Director in order to learn more about their business and to gain valuable insight into the products and services they offer

Breaking Barriers: Beyond Boundaries

After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Information Systems from RMIT University in Australia, Abhishek noticed a gap in the market for travel agencies that provided a ‘human touch’ to the Indian diaspora living in Australia. With this realisation, he started a retail travel business 16 years ago that was focused on serving the needs of the Indian diaspora in the country. It is to be noted that the Indian diaspora in Australia has grown significantly over the years, from around 200,000 in 2010 to almost 750,000 currently. The company predicts that this trend of growth will continue in the coming years.

Turtle Down Under was established six years ago as an Inbound Tour Operator and Destination Management Company to cater to the Australian travel market. The company’s unique selling proposition is the provision of a 24×7 concierge service for travellers, which sets them apart from other travel agencies in the region. This feature is especially important for clients who require personalised attention and assistance with their travel plans. Currently, they are one of the top three travel businesses that serve the Indian community living in Australia, with over 170 employees spread across Mumbai, Kolkata, Colombo, Melbourne, and New Zealand.

Technology: Revolutionising the game

Turtle Down Under works with a wide range of tour management companies, wholesalers, and online travel agents to provide customized holiday packages to Australia and New Zealand. The company has developed an online platform called ‘Shell’ which allows travel agents to obtain quotes within just five minutes, making it a quick and efficient way for agents to book travel arrangements. This platform provides travel agents with a quick and easy tool to generate instant quotations for travel packages to Australia and New Zealand. It helps travel agents focus on selling and driving their sales rather than waiting for manual quotes, which can take up to 24-48 hours.

Turtle Down Under has expanded its operations in Southeast Asia and currently has sales representatives in the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia. Since the pandemic, they have established a team that caters to the growing demand for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) and group travels to Australia and New Zealand. During the 2022 Cricket World Cup, Turtle Down Under successfully served 2000+ travellers in Australia, and since October 2022, the company has added New Zealand to its portfolio. Turtle Down Under is now an accredited member of the Tourism Export Council of New Zealand.

Addressing the expanding Indian market and its diverse segments

India’s population is growing at an unprecedented rate. The Indian tourism market is thriving, with travellers eager to explore and experience new destinations. Indian tourists are not hesitant when it comes to traveling and are known for their enthusiasm and robustness. However, there are limited choices for long-haul holidays, and Australia and New Zealand are part of this limited selection. Therefore, there is great potential for growth in the Indian tourism market. At Turtle Down Under, they specialize in providing customised travel packages for individuals (FITs) traveling to Australia, and they have recently expanded their services to cater to MICE and group travel.

“Looking ahead, we expect both FIT and group segments to continue to grow and reach pre-COVID levels of travel to Australia and New Zealand in the coming year. This is an exciting time for our company as we anticipate more growth opportunities from the Indian tourism market!” says Abhishek.

What’s on the Horizon?

Turtle Down Under, has made several exciting announcements regarding its services. Firstly, they are now offering airfare-inclusive packages for travellers. Secondly, they have expanded their services to include domestic group ticketing within Australia. Furthermore, they have expanded their destination portfolio to include New Zealand, which started in October 2022. Additionally, the company has welcomed a new Director of Sales, Carl Mah. Carl brings with him extensive 25-year experience in servicing Indian agencies, making him a valuable addition to the team. These updates showcase the company’s dedication to continuously enhancing its services to better cater to its customers’ needs.

Overall, Turtle Down Under is a highly experienced inbound tour operator that has been successful in meeting the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company’s technology and dedicated team make it a great choice for those looking to travel to Australia and New Zealand.



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