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Goa Is Gearing Up For The Tourism Season Without The Foreign Charters This Year

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Tourism Season Without The Foreign Charters
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Goa’s Tourism Industry is dependent on the foreign tourists that come in the charter flights, but it looks like this year the state may have to go ahead with the season without them as the Covid crisis is not yet over and there is no clarity as to when the state government will allow the tourist visas. 

According to the reports, the tourism stakeholder in Goa has given up hope for the season after the decision of center to not restore the tourist visas. The charter season in Goa starts by mid-October and concludes by April-May. 

“I still don’t want to believe that we will not have a charter season,” said Ernest Dias of Sita, a travel company that handles charter tourists from Europe and Russia. “It will be a disaster for the industry if we do not have charters and foreign tourists. (But) in all likelihood, we may not have a charter season.” 

Goa gets around 2 to 2.5 lakhs foreigner tourists via charter flights that include majorly Russians followed by British and European travelers. The state’s total international footfall is pegged at about 8 lakh, while the number for domestic tourists is around 80 lakh. 

The tase body of Hotels and Tour Operators, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has been working on this for the past several months pursuing the “bubble transport arrangements” with the UK, Russia, and Poland, Goa’s source markets, to enable tourists from the three countries to visit Goa, but the state government could not do much to support the same. 

According to the reports, The chief minister of Goa Dr. Pramod Sawant wrote to the union home ministry to grant the relaxation to Goa since its tourism industry is majorly dependent on international tourists.    

Tourism secretary J Ashok Kumar said that“As of now, the government of India has not relaxed norms to allow international tourists. We have taken up the matter with the government and have consistently been following up.”

Many countries in Europe and the UK going through the second wave of the Pandemic and bringing the tourists flow from this country only out the state at the risk of an increase in the Covid cases. Hence the stakeholders of the tourism industry in Goa feel that the state may have to go ahead without the international tourists this year.   

“With cases on the rise in Europe, are we ready to fight it,” said a senior official at a travel company. “Again, the virus strain found in Europe is said to be more virulent than the one in India. That’s what I have read, I’m not a scientist, but the decision of the government is right. Most of our foreign tourists are from the UK and European countries. I doubt we will have charters at all this season.”    

Dias, of Sita, said it’s a worrying trend. “I don’t think we will have any foreign tourists till December,” he said. If things improve, perhaps in January we may have some travelers, but that too looks doubtful. If the announcement lifting restrictions doesn’t happen before the first week of January, I don’t think any charter operators will want to come to Goa for just two months.” 

Unlike the Russian tourists, the British tourists are known to plan their vacations well in advance and they plan their long stay in Goa from November to March to escape the severe winter while Russians makes their vacation plans on the spot, said the travel operator. 

According to the TTAG president Nilesh Shah, the state government needs to make an announcement of restoring tourist visas in advance so that marketing and booking can start. “Unless the announcement happens, we cannot start taking bookings, as we need time to market the product,” Shah said adding that “It is going to be a challenging time. The small operators — shacks and small hotels — that depend on repeat charter tourists will suffer a blow. International tourists have a long stay of minimum of 15 days, whereas the standard stay for domestic tourists is three to four days.” 

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