Monday, 19 April 2010

Queen's baton in Sydney

The 19th Commonwealth Games baton passed through Sydney yesterday with the promise of building new relations between India and Australia.

At a function last night celebrating the XIX Commonwealth Games being held 3-14 October in Delhi India, the High Commissioner of India the Honorable Mrs Sujatha Singh welcomed the Queen's Baton relay to Sydney.

The High Commissioner said this is a great day for India and Australia relations.

Symbolising the shared ideals of Commonwealth nations, what binds India and Australia are not only the three "C's" Cricket, Curry and the Commonwealth, but the vibrant multi cultural democracies of both countries and the Commonwealth Games are helping build bridges of friendship and understanding said Mrs Singh.

Dipen Rughani, President of the Australia India Business Council said two years of lobbying was successful in bringing the baton to Sydney (originally planned to only visit Melbourne) arriving in Harris Park, Sydney's "Little India", where tensions were raised last year by attacks on Australian-based Indian students. The Baton was also welcomed at a civic ceremony at Parramatta's Town Hall and visited Sydney's famous Opera House

The Baton was carried by Nathan Hindemarsh, Kieren Perkins and other Olympic and Commonwealth Games sporting legends.

Visiting all 71 countries participating in the games, the baton is travelling some 190,000 kms to 100 cities, the longest baton relay in Commonwealth games history in the 167 day lead up to the opening ceremony.

India is fast becoming a popular destination for Australians with 150,000 arrivals in 2009. The GFC saw a 3.3% decline in visitor numbers last year, though the first quarter of 2010 looks promising with visa issuance up 43.67% said Krishna R. Arya, Regional Director India Tourism Australasia

Due to the Games India expects a rush of visa requests and promises visa issuance will not be subject to any delays.

Tourism India expect 100,000 visitors to Delhi during the games plus 6,000 athletes from 71 countries will participate in 17 sports. Tickets for events will range from INR50-INR1000 (AUD$1-$50). Opening Ceremony tickets will cost from INR1000-INR50,000 (AUD$50-$1200).

The Games Travel Office covers accommodation, transport and pre/post games touring in and around Delhi. Touring with set or FIT itineraries which can include the length and breadth of India.

The Queen's Baton Relay leaves Sydney today for Melbourne.

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