New visa norms are the scourge of Goa tourism, says Official

The stringent visa regime was severely affecting Goa's tourism USP -- repeat tourists from Europe, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) spokesperson Ralph de Souza told IANS.

"Goa enjoys the maximum number of repeat tourists, especially from Britain and parts of western Europe. However, yes, this year Goa has seen fewer arrivals of tourists - around seven percent over last season - but this is largely due to the new restrictive visa policies," de Souza said.

The decline in foreign tourist inflow is largely due to the visa norms which restrict staying in the country for over three months, he added.

"Moreover, on exiting the country, a traveller is required to wait for two months before re-entering. This has affected travel plans of tourists who generally make Goa their base for a period of five to six months and travel across destinations in south Asia," the spokesperson said.

"The new visa regime is very problematic for us. It is really affecting the long stayers from western Europe who used to spend their entire winter in sunny Goa," he said.
Tourists from 'friendly' European nations could be excluded from the new visa norms, which were enacted in view of the security scenario, he opined.

Goa has already taken up the issue of tough visa norms with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

"Krishna has promised to review the case. He has assured us that the visa processing period could be reduced as a starting step," Rajya Sabha member from Goa Shantaram Naik said.

Goa sees a large inflow of tourists annually, of whom nearly half a million are foreign nationals.

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