Goa still India's chosen hangout

Goa still India's chosen hangout

There is a 12 per cent spurt in domestic tourists to Goa for the New Year

The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) estimates there has been a 12 per cent spurt in domestic tourists headed for New Year beach parties.

“Had it not been for the domestic arrivals, we would have had a serious setback,” says hotelier and TTAG spokesman Ralph D’Souza.

The West European market has seen a drop of eight per cent from last year. And it’s not the winter freeze or the flight cancellations that’s keeping the European tourists away, D’Souza says.

The visa restrictions that allows foreigners short-term single entry (five-year multiple entry was the norm in the past) is seriously hurting Goa’s travel industry, the TTAG said.
“Foreigners who come here from West Europe are long-staying, repeat tourists, many of them British retirees.

They don’t want the hassle or the expense of reapplying for a visa each time,” D’Souza says. He says a study done by the hotel industry shows that arrivals to Goa from the UK, the Nordic and Scandinavian countries has dropped by 30 per cent since the new visa regulations were put in force in 2008, causing losses in the region of Rs 900 crore.

Visa rules

The Goa government has made several representations to the Union Home Ministry for a relaxation of the visa rules.

A state delegation will go to Delhi for talks with home ministry officials next month, says Director of Tourism Swapnil Naik. Though a number of charter flights were delayed by weather conditions in Europe and the US over the past week, there have been no cancellations, says Naik. So far 288 long-haul flights have come in from abroad since October with 58,000 tourists.

Over 155 charters flew in from Russia, 77 from the UK, 45 from the Scandinavian countries and 10 from Germany.

Travel operators said though Goa was having an exceptionally good year-end, rooms were still available, specially in hotels that priced themselves out of the market.

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