A 50% drop in charter arrivals from Russia was witnessed in India’s Goa during the recently concluded holiday season compared to the previous year, the Times of India reports. According to official data, 62,000 less Russian tourists visited Goa’s tourist resorts.
Local officials say that the season’s bright spot was 227 charter flights that Goa received from Russia’s neighboring country, Ukraine, against just 90 in 2017-18.
This corresponded to an increase of over 30,000 Ukrainian tourists from the previous year. Tour operators, however, feel this is no match for Russian tourist footfalls. Chief operating officer of Sita Travels, Ernest Dias, said that since Ukraine is a small country, the number of tourists coming in from there will be relatively small.
For over a decade now, charter flights from Russia contributed to over half the number of charter flights coming into Goa. Over the past four years, however, the dip in the Russian economy has had an adverse effect on Goan tourism too. This year’s 50% dip, in particular, has been a matter of huge concern for tour operators, the Times of India writes.
In January, Indian media reported that Russian tour operator Pegas Touristik, which operates about 300 flights each season, would discontinue its charter operations in Goa from January 12 after failing to get incentives or relief from Airports Authority of India (AAI).
Dias said that Russian tourists are avoiding Goa in favor of other international destinations that offer better priced holiday packages.
“They can’t be blamed for choosing other destinations. Holidaying in India is a costly affair. To add to it are the high visa fees. The visa fee is 100 dollars per person. For a family of four, that is a whopping 400 dollars which itself increases the cost of the holiday. If they choose any other international destination, they will get a cheaper package,” he said.
A spot of solace for Goan stakeholders has been the most consistent number of flights as well as tourists from its second most significant market, UK. While there is little indication so far as to what’s in store for the upcoming 2019-20 season, tour operators are watching the scene with apprehension, hopeful that the season will see a better performance. Unless there is a change in the tourism policy, Dias said they can’t expect much gains for the industry.