PANAJI, India – While it is expected that there will be fewer charter flights coming to Goa from European countries for the tourist season beginning next month, the industry stake holders believe they will be able to make up for the loss thanks to corresponding increase in tourists from Russia. The first charter flight of the season is expected to land in Goa by mid-October from Moscow. With Goa having seen an increase in tourist arrivals from Russia during the last three years, tour operators have all focused on Russia for the coming season.
In 2010, tourist inflow from Russia was 57,623 (13.06%) which was almost doubled up in 2011 when 1,17,683 (30%) Russian tourists visited Goa, and in 2012, 1,40,100 (32%) Russians came to Goa.
Leading charter operators observe Goa will receive more tourists from Russia than from any other foreign country for this tourist season.
Ernest Dias, chief operating officer (COO), Sita, said during the last three years arrival of charters from UK has come down while that from Russia has gone up.
“Just three charters a week came from UK last season as against 7-8 charters during previous years,” Dias said who believes there will be greater number of charters from Russia for the coming season.
Nilesh Cabral, chairman, Goa tourism development corporation (GTDC), said 50-60% charters will be from Russia. Tour operators believe increased inflow from Russia will help Goa keep going in the coming season even as economic slowdown in the European market will have a bearing on charters coming from Goa’s traditional market,
There has been an overall jump in the number of charters coming to Goa since 2010-11 when Goa’s tally of charters went up to 900 as against 626 in 2009-2010. In 2011-2012, Goa had 910 charters and 2012-13, 996.
Rohit Walter, vice-president, travel corporation of India (TCI) and who is also vice-president, Thomas Cook (India), Ltd, said Goa will receive charters from its conventional markets such as UK, Germany and Scandanavian countries. He also expects more charters from Russia.
Perceiving the coming season as most “healthy”, he said they are scheduled to receive five charters from Russia every week for 26 weeks of the season.
Another leading tour operator, Trail blazer tours (I) pvt ltd, however, is not so optimistic about the new season. Gomes Pereira, COO – charters and Goa of TCI, said bookings are very slow in coming even from Russia.
“Thanks to high taxation, tourists are shying away from India,” says Pereira.