As per the normal trend, Goa’s tourism season has already commenced from this month, but the absence of foreign tourists through charter flights has created a shortfall in the state leading to a major setback to the tourism business in Goa.
At this juncture, the charter flight arrivals from Russia could pump in some life into the sinking tourism sector of Goa. According to the sources, Russian charter operators have shown their willingness to land into Goa.
Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, recently, in a statement to the media, said that the Union ministry will give a go-ahead for charter flights to operate to Goa from Russia from the coming month of November.
“Russian charter operators have shown their readiness to come to Goa. When they have shown their willingness to come to Goa, we have to welcome them,” the minister said.
However, as of now, nothing appears to be certain, as according to tourism stakeholders, the Union government must first announce the resumption of international commercial flights to India, and only then can charter flights begin landing in Goa.
The central government however to date has not provided any answers about its willingness to resume foreign travel as of now. Hence, many believe, that until that is done, it will be difficult to predict the exact date to see charter flights arriving in Goa.
The larger concern also remains that until the government announces its dates of resumption of foreign flights, charter operators and travel companies cannot go ahead with their marketing, advertising, and bookings for charter operators.
The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has however stated a different course as that of the minister, adding that if foreign flight resumption dates are announced by this month, then Goa may see its first charter flight land only in December, unlike the MLA’s claim of November.
The state government has also written to the Centre requesting to allow charter flights to land in Goa keeping in mind the interest of the tourism-dependent economy of Goa. But no positive reply has been received to date.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed. We are hoping that there will be some announcement this month. We will meet the tourism secretary next week,” TTAG president Nilesh Shah was reported as saying.
Meanwhile, it is also learnt that nearly 350 charter flight operators have booked their slots at the Goa International Airport till the end of the current tourism season. According to Goa Airport Director, the only thing hindering their arrivals mostly as of now is the resumption of foreign commercial flights.
Also, with the cancellation of British charter operators TUI Airways till mid-December, it is the Russian charter flights that the state is hoping to tap on by providing maximum support from all sides to facilitate their arrivals in Goa. Many believe that not many European arrivals will be seen in Goa at least for another two months.
Prominent hotels have been largely positive at tapping domestic tourists with exclusive offers and discounts; however, stakeholders believe that the smaller hotels and rental premises that would largely depend on charter tourists being budget travelers will be affected.