Victor Albuquerque appointed Russian Honorary Consul
With the number of Russian tourists visiting Goa going up in recent years, the country has decided to be proactive in the diplomatic field.
Victor Albuquerque, chairman of Alcon Victor Group, has been appointed the Russian Honorary Consul here.
“As we are in the tourism business and cater to a large number of Russian tourists in our hotels, I will try to improve the image of Russians in Goa and also the image of Goa itself to attract more tourists in the coming years,” Mr. Albuquerque told The Hindu on Wednesday.
He said that the annual Russian tourist arrivals by chartered flights had gone up from 48,500 in 2008 to 1,33,780 in 2011 and 1,40,100 in 2012.
Considering that the profile of Russian tourists had taken a beating with their involvement in questionable land deals, shady entertainment and tourism businesses, especially on the coastal belt, the tourism circles here have welcomed Mr. Albuquerque’s appointment.
He said he would function within the ambit of law and dispel the negative image of Russians who had been in the news often for wrong reasons, ranging from links with mafia, drugs and conflicts with locals in coastal belt.
Asked about the growing perception that Russians were involved in drug pushing, violation of visa rules and illegal purchasing of properties, Mr. Albuquerque said: “I am aware of the activities, especially in the northern belt, where a sizeable segment of Russians, Israelis and other foreign nationals have set up shop. However, I don’t have any proof.”
“The government has to ensure that such activities do not take place. However, even locals are involved in them,” he said. Mr. Albuquerque said he would try to be a facilitator for genuine tourists who were in distress or had problems.
He said the perception that Russians did not spend much on tourism was not correct.
“Russians do not visit shacks and smaller eateries and have all their food and other amenities in the hotel. They pay the same tariff as other tourists,” he said.
“In fact, it is the European tourist who has no spending power as most of the countries in the European Union are facing a financial crunch. Most of them actually are budget tourists,” Mr. Albuquerque said.
“To attract high-end tourists whether from Russia or elsewhere, Goa should have good infrastructure,” Mr. Albuquerque added.