Revocation of the E-Visa facility to the UK nationals and other few countries have sent the shock wave to the stakeholders of the Tourism Industry in Goa. The major stakeholders like Charter operators and other stakeholders of the tourism industry has voiced their discontent over this issue.
The major revenue generation of Goa’s tourism industry is dependent on the international tourists and in the past two years Goa is not getting the foreign nationals due to Covid situation. This year, Goa opened its doors to the domestic tourism from June onwards and its has received a very good response.
Most of the hotels in the state were running almost full with domestic tourism booming in the state, but the main cream, the foreigners were yet remained the distant dream.
In the month of October, the state Government made announcement of ‘Goa Opened up for the International Tourism’ the permission for the foreign charters has been granted from 15th October and Goa CM Dr Pramod Sawant made announcement in the media saying “Goa will have a Good Tourism season this year, especially with International flights to the country scheduled to resume from 15th November.”
The Initial permission was granted to the two countries that Goa get major amount of business coming in, The UK and Russia and for the rest of the countries, it was decided to open the doors from Mid November onwards.
According to the reports, the Goa state generates a foreign exchange of approximately 29 billion US dollars per annum from the international tourism, but in the past two years due to Pandemic business became uncertain.
The Free Visa Policy and e-visa facility are the two major source of business that would invite the foreign tourists into the country, but the recent decision of the government may jeopardise that possibility completely.
The Indian Government made the provision for around 5 Lakh free tourist visas this year to give boost to the Tourism Industry but in reality only 15 thousand visas were issued till November resulting into the slow movement of international travel to India.
Meanwhile due to the rise in covid cases in the UK and Russia made government to take stringent steps and keep the ban active on the flights coming down from the UK and Russia which ultimately resulted into the lose of business.
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.
Due to the new development the flights coming down from Russia and UK were further got delayed till the mid of December. Based on the statement issued by TTAG president Nilesh Shah, there were 4 charter flights from UK supposed to land in Goa per week with at least 1000 British nationals landing in Goa every week but that did not happened due to the ban.
Now according to the new report published by the local daily Heraldo, the Government has revoked the e-visa facilities allowed the UK and couple of other countries. According to the report, The government at the centre has decided to exclude travellers from Canada, United Kingdom, Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia from having access to e-visa facilities.
The above move has put down many tourism aspirants who wanted to travel to India for their vacation. According to reports, Goa has suffered a biggest blow due to this move of central government. The tourists from UK maters the most for the tourism stakeholders of Goa and e-visa had made their transition earlier. It does not mean they cannot travel to Goa Now but they will have to apply for the visa in London which may put off their enthusiasm.
What Tourism Stakeholders has to Say on This New Development
The new development in the e-visa policy has evoked a diverse response from the stakeholders of the Tourism industry in Goa.
According to Mr Ernest Dias, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the TCI, it is a very sad news for the stakeholders as it will snatch away the expected business during the high season. The charters will surely get affected. “Many of our clients will be planning and even booking tickets. For a few years now, they have been used to the facility of getting a visa in Goa itself. Now they will have to apply for it at the embassy in London and that may dissuade a few from not taking the trip. This will certainly affect the numbers,” he said adding, the numbers that he had in the 2019-20 will surely won’t get this year.” According to Mr Dias, Goa needs a business very badly to recover the loses that it has incurred during the pandemic due to zero business.
Another stake holder Savio Massias, former head of TTAG, undoubtedly the International business will face a big blow. “The tourists from the UK and Russia is very important for the Industry. Now due to rise in cases in Russia the business is already suffering and the this new move of central government will put the last nail in the coffin.
According to Serafin Cotta, who is into the chapter business having major client base from the UK and Russia said that the international market is no more same what it used to be. “It is very competitive and we have to compete with the other nations. E-visa was one of the major weapon to fight with the competition and we have lost that. I am unable to understand this move of Government,” he said adding, hope this issue get sorted soon.
Another tour operator Aloo Gomes, COO of Travel Blaze Tours feels that this new development will have very serious consequences on the tourism industry. “This new development will bring back the old system of applying visa in London. This will benefit travel agents, as they will get back into business but those who wanted to travel would make the journey,” he said.
Nilesh Shah, president of TTAG feel that the new development will increase in the rush for visas at the Indian Embassy in the UK. “There are pio’s who want to come to India and it will be a challenge for tourists to get a visa at the last minute. We want foreign tourists to come here without any hassle and we would like to see some relaxation on the part of the government. The move by the government to give five lakh free visas is great and I am sure will be used by all those visiting the country and Goa. I am sure something positive will emerge in a couple of weeks,” he said.