The tourism industry in Goa is awaiting to welcome the foreign tourists from October onwards but the continuous extensions on flights ban is causing a big dismay to the stakeholders of the industry and now with the new development in the flight ban has given a big blow to Goa’s tourism industry.
According to the reports, the union government have decided to extend the ban on the international flights till 30th November due to the rise in Covid cases in the Russia and UK.
The decision of Union Government has dismayed the tour operators handling the International flights but meanwhile the good news is the hotels in Goa have been doing extremely well due to increase in the domestic footfalls.
Earlier the Ministry of Home Affairs made announcement that to boost the Tourism in Goa the government will issue the fresh tourist visa to the foreigners coming down from the UK and Russia in chartered flights.
According to the reports, the chartered flights were supposed to commence from 15th October but then it go postposed to 15th November and now it has been further extended to 30th November.
The Covid Spike in The UK
Earlier in the month of October there was a sudden spike of Covid cases in UK due to which some countries had banned the flights from the UK but India did not take any such action then.
According to the report, Delta Plus virus cases had spiked in the UK resulting into the cases jumping to 49,000 on Wednesday from existing 43,000 on Tuesday due to which some countries had banned the flights from UK but India did not follow the suit initially as the tourism industry in the country was getting ready to welcome the foreign tourists from UK and Russia.
Meanwhile the Indian Government had laid down certain guidelines for the people travelling from the UK which included the mandatory RT-PCR tests for the people travelling from the foreign country specially from the UK.
Delay in Chartered Flights From Russia and UK
The picture started becoming clear by the end of October as the cases started rising in the UK and Russia and the Tourism body of Goa TTAG made announcement of delay in the flights from Russia and UK. “The flights from Russia and UK will get delayed till mid December of the Covid cases do not come under control,” said the TTAG president Nilesh Shah.
According to the TTAG, Goa would get approximately 4 flights per week from Russia and UK by the Mid of December and it will continue till March 2022. “The flights will first start from Manchester and Gatwick in the UK and depending on the situation other countries would also get the permission to land on Goa Airport,” he added.
The Operators Busy Getting Bookings
Soon after the announcement of relaxation in the travel norms and issue of new visa in the Mid of October had resulted into spike in the bookings to the travel operators for November but now the new development in the policy will lead to cancellation or postponement of the bookings.
One of the travel operators from Goa dealing with the International travel bookings said that the big hotels are busy getting business from domestic tourists. “Starred hotels as well as tour operators handling domestic clientele are doing well, while other operators are affected,” said Aloo Gomes, COO of Trail Blazer India (TBI) Pvt Ltd adding, the situation is dynamic and noting can be predicted “India cannot risk while many countries are facing the worst of the pandemic situation.”
Ernest Dias, COO, Sita Travels said they have not received any bookings from Russian destinations, but got some from the UK, including a few for November. “I had a few bookings for November 14 as we planned to bring clients through scheduled flights, but with the extension of the ban, those arrivals have been deferred,” said Dias.
Cases Rising Due to Non-Vaccination
According to Mr Dias, the situation is getting worse in the UK and Russia as many have not taken the vaccines. “The problem is grave as many have not taken the vaccine in Russia and the country is in lockdown,” said Dias.
Meanwhile the entry of non vaccinated Russians will create the serious concern of spread of virus in the state and hence keeping the watch on the situation is the best policy at the moment.
Goa is all set to receive the first flights from the UK by the mid of December provided the conditions don’t change. Meanwhile the tour operators feel that the Tourism will pick up by Mid of December or in the beginning of January next year.
According to the reports, more than half of the charters that land in Goa are from Russia and other CIS countries. The vice president operations of Minar Travels (India) Pvt. Ltd, Ms Abida Kumar says that their company also did not get bookings from Russia due to spike in Covid cases there. “I think the season will be delayed, but it will happen for sure. Tourists will not miss out on this opportunity as other countries are also not fully opened,” she said.
Now all the eyes are focused on the situation in the countries from where Goa gets its major chunk of business and as the situation starts improving there it will surely impact positively here. What is your view on this?