The collapse of Thomas Cook UK has dealt a big blow to the tourism industry in Goa. UK’s oldest tour operator would ferry tens of thousands of visitors to Goa every year, which chose to make the sunshine state their home in order to avoid the harsh winters in their country.
A big void will be created by the absence of these visitors and in view of the upcoming tourist season scheduled to commence next month, the State Government has been requested to tap three different airlines to ensure that visitors from the UK come to the State this year.
A delegation of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), along with the representatives of Thomas Cook UK in Goa, met the Tourism Secretary on Tuesday suggesting that the carrying capacity of these aircraft be augmented and bigger aircraft of Qatar Airlines, Air India, and Thomson Airways be arranged to Goa.
TTAG President, Savio Messias informed the media that in order to bring British Tourists to Goa, other airlines were being considered. A meeting with the Tourism secretary was held urging to increase the capacity of these flights. He pointed out that in order to do so, as the Central government, as well as officials from the respective airlines, will have to be brought in to agree to the conditions.
With the collapse of Thomas Cook UK, tourism stakeholders are looking for other viable options in the UK to commence charter operations in Goa, in order to ensure that Goa continues welcoming visitors from the UK to its shores.
The delegation was assured by the Tourism secretary that the government will get into talks with the concerned authorities in a bid to help out the tourism industry.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, stated that the Government is looking for other alternatives with other international firms so as to soften the impact on the tourism industry.
Last year itself, Thomas Cook brought in 2000 tourists to Goa every week through their charter flights. Around 17000 British travelers had already confirmed their booking with the company in Goa this year for the upcoming tourist season.
Meanwhile, Serafino Cota, the President of Small and Medium Hotelier’s Association has made a request to the government to the government to step in and help bail out the hoteliers for the upcoming season in the light of the Thomas Cook collapse.
Cota stated that small and medium hoteliers as well as shacks and small restaurant owners were dependent on these tourists from the UK and has said that the government should make arrangements for transport facilities for these tourists, who are ready to visit Goa, in the upcoming tourist season.
“As per our information, many tourists are still willing to visit Goa as usual provided they get the proper transport facilities. The question before the stakeholders is how to get these tourists to Go, whether by extra flights or by making alternate arrangements”, Cota said.
Cota also pointed out that the government should look into allowing other airlines such as Qatar Airways and Oman Airways, which have flights between UK and Goa, to increase their capacity and bring in tourists to Goa.
Cota further added that tourists from the UK are the second largest group of foreigners’ visiting Goa, the first being Russians and that their absence would severely affect the tourism industry. He said that it’s up to the government to put different alternatives in place so that Goa remains a favored destination for visitors from the UK.
He also spoke on how the mining ban had affected Goa and urged stakeholders and the government to step in and save tourism in Goa.
The tourism industry has also been dealt with another blow with the National Green Tribunal’s stay order on the Shack Policy 2019-2020, till the CZMP is finalized.
With the upcoming tourist season scheduled to commence next week, Goa gets ready to welcome its first chartered flight from Russia on October 4.
The first charter flight from UK is due in November. One hopes that the government and authorities step in and explore the alternatives to transport UK visitors to Goa so that they can help bail out the crumbling tourist industry.