Industry

Goa seeing a 20-30% drop in foreign tourists this year, says tour and travel operators body

According to government figures, around 4 lakh foreigners annually visit the popular beach State where tourism is a key revenue generating sector.

According to government figures, around 4 lakh foreigners annually visit the popular beach State where tourism is a key revenue generating sector.   | Photo Credit: File

The collapse of U.K.’s travel company Thomas Cook in September and the resulting lack of chartered flights have been touted as one of the major reasons for the prevailing situation

The number of foreigners arriving in Goa during the ongoing tourism season has come down by around 30% compared to 2018 due to reduction in frequency of chartered flights, said an umbrella body of tour and travel operators on Thursday.

Collapse of U.K.’s travel company Thomas Cook in September has emerged as one of the major reasons for the drop in foreign tourist footfalls in the coastal State, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) said.

During its active days, the 178-year-old holiday firm operated one flight a day, each carrying around 200 passengers, in Goa during the last tourism season. However, the company declared bankruptcy three months ago after failing to reach a last-ditch rescue deal. Talking to PTI, TTAG president Savio Messias said the drop in arrival of foreign tourists till now is approximately 20-30% as compared to the previous season, but the actual reduction in room occupancy per night is more severe.

He said the drop in the number of foreign travellers, who used to spend 15 to 30 days in Goa during the season, has resulted in reduction in room occupancy per night, which cannot be compensated by domestic vacationers who typically holiday in the state for just three-four nights. “German airline TUI has increased its weekly frequency of chartered flights from two to three, but this has failed to compensate for the loss arising out of Thomas Cook shutting down their business. There is no complaint about domestic tourism. It is only international tourism which is on the decline,” Mr. Messias said.

“Foreign travellers are very essential for the industry in Goa because the main difference is that domestic trippers spend 3-4 nights, whereas international tourists spend 10-15 days or even longer,” he said. The Goa Tourism Department expected that the vacuum created by the absence of Thomas Cook flights to be filled by Air India flights from the U.K., but it has not happened in the current season.

‘Lobbying required’

The first chartered flight in Goa arrived in the first week of October from Moscow, bringing in tourists from Russia. “The Goa government had approached Air India to fly chartered flights to the State. I met Air India officials as well. They were telling me that they can start a flight but a lot of lobbying is required,” Mr. Messias said.

“Basically, Air India decisions are sometimes backed by political will. The government has to do some lobbying. Unfortunately, our State tourism minister is not doing that,” he alleged.

According to the TTAG president, chartered flight business may get revived during the next tourism season as other companies have time to plan their operations to the State. According to government figures, around 4 lakh foreigners visit the popular beach State annually. The State, where tourism is a key revenue generating sector, attracts about 60 lakh holiday-makers a year.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:59:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/goa-seeing-a-20-30-drop-in-foreign-tourists-this-year-says-tour-and-travel-operators-body/article30189529.ece

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