War in Ukraine darkens Goa’s tourist season

Faced with uncertainty over charter flights to Goa due to the Russian-Ukrainian war and visa issues, the tourism sector in Goa has focused on domestic tourists, hoping for a revival .

As the coastal state’s tourism sector is mainly dependent on the UK and Russia, and parts of Europe, Goa is facing difficulties this season in wooing them due to the war in Europe and visa issues. with the UK.

In 2019, around 71.27,000 domestic tourists arrived in Goa, while 9.31,000 were foreign tourists. But that number dropped in 2020 and 2021 when the Covid pandemic hit the coastal state. This number has come down to just 3 lakh domestic tourists and 32,000 foreign tourists.

About 80,000 to 90,000 people from Russia come to Goa for vacation every year, while about 50,000 people from UK also prefer Goa.

Now that the Covid pandemic is easing and the state hoped that big spenders from abroad would arrive in Goa, the war between Russia and Ukraine dashed hope.

Sources at Goa airport have informed that some flights from Russia have been canceled and were scheduled for October. “Yes, some flights from Russia are cancelled. However, we hope that from November things will improve,” an officer said on condition of anonymity.

Goa Travel and Tourism Association (TTAG) Chairman Nilesh Shah told IANS that due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, bookings have declined and cancellations have also occurred. venue.

“However, the Russians are ready to come to Goa. From November, three charter flights (per week) will arrive in Goa,” Shah said.

“We have received information that they (the Russians) are ready to come to Goa, although there are restrictions in their country,” he said.

Speaking of British tourists, Shah said if the visa problem is solved, as assured by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, it would be good for the tourism industry.

“As of November, one flight from the UK will arrive in Goa every week. If the UK visa issue is resolved, the number of flights will increase from 1 to 5. They could increase further,” Shah said.

“The last two years have been bad, compared to that it’s a good start. We hope things will improve. But we will focus on domestic tourists coming to Goa,” he added .

He said that if the visa problem was solved, the number of British tourists would increase between December and January.

According to Goa Forward chairman and provincial deputy Vijai Sardesai, 35-40% of Russian tourists arrive in Goa every year. But now, because of Russia and Ukrainian War these tourists will not come. “Therefore, we now have to fill this space from England,” he said.

Sardesai claimed the state would face a loss of Rs 500 crore if tourists from the UK did not arrive due to visa hurdles.

Sardesai had earlier said that Goa was facing cancellation of 7-8 bookings per day in small and medium hotels, due to new visa restriction by Ministry of External Affairs, where British tourists have to apply for visa at nine centers (Visa Processing) In England.

“This (lifting restriction) is significant because in Goa every year at least 40,000 to 50,000 tourists arrive from the UK. According to statistics from the pre-pandemic period, each tourist spends around Rs 98,000 means that around Rs 500 crore turnover takes place in this area,” Sardesai had said.

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Thursday that the Union Home Ministry had given assurances to resolve the UK visa issue as soon as possible.

“I have discussed the UK visa issue with Home Secretary Amit Shah. This will be sorted out soon. There were issues with the Foreign Office hence the delay. But he assured to resolve as soon as possible,” Sawant said.

Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte also said at the last session of the assembly that Goa mainly depends on two markets, the UK and Russia, and parts of Europe.

“Today we are mainly dependent on two markets, the UK and Russia, and parts of Europe. Are we on the right track? Are we considering the same tourists arriving? How do we look domestic tourists coming in? For that, we need to see how we move forward,” Khaunte said.


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