Tourism industry in an upbeat mood

Chartered flights with high-spending tourists from Russia will arrive in God’s Own Country for the second consecutive year in December to the relief of stakeholders in the tourism industry who are trying to overcome a “bad” non-peak season.

The first direct flight from Ekaterinburg, the fourth largest city in Russia, via Goa will touch down at the international airport here on December 29. The charter flight operations will bring in Russian tourists every fortnight till March 30.

Confirming the schedule to The Hindu, a tour operator associated with the charter flight operations said another four flights were likely to be operated to the State by the Russia-based Pegas Touristik, extending the operations after March 30.

The direct flights will be operated by Orenair (Orenburg Airlines) and Nordwind Airlines. SITA-Kuoni Destination Managers will be the local handlers. The Russian tourists will spend 13 nights/14 days in the State, and can opt from destinations such as Ponmudi, the backwaters, Kanyakumari, and Madurai during their stay.

The company had inked an agreement regarding the charter flight operations in April this year following the success of the operations last season. The overwhelming response of Russians to the destination is another factor.

As many as 17 flights were operated during the six-month period beginning October 22 last year, and over 3,000 Russian tourists were flown into the State. The tour and hotel business alone came to Rs.20 crore, sources said. As Russians are high-spending visitors, the stakeholders benefited immensely from the charter flight operations.

Kovalam is the first stopover of the chartered tourists who land in the State capital. The travel trade, which is not happy with the tourist inflow last month and is facing poor bookings in October, is euphoric over the confirmation of the arrival of chartered flights.

The listed hotels got 80 per cent occupancy during the six months the Russian chartered flights operated. Prasad Manjali, Corporate Director of a leisure hotel near Samudra beach, said they were looking forward to the arrival of the Russians.

“We have received the bookings and confirmation of their arrival. Those who had come from Russia are again approaching us for undergoing Ayurveda therapy,” he said.