JAN 29, 2015: A Senior Goa Government official on Saturday said that tourist arrivals in the State by chartered flights have dropped sharply by 35 to 40 per cent in the current season owing to inadequate facilities including parking facilities for aircraft at the airport.
“There is a drop in chartered tourist arrivals by almost 35 to 40 per cent compared to last year. A less number of chartered flights have arrived in the current tourist season,” the Goa Tourism Development Corporation Chairman, Nilesh Cabral, said.
A delegation of Goa Tourism Ministry, comprising state tourism minister Dilip Parulekar, Nilesh Cabral, tourism director Amey Abhyankar, and others met the Union Tourism Minister, Mahesh Sharma, and the Civil Aviation Minister, P Raju, to discuss the issues faced by the industry.
Problems encountered by airline operators at the existing lone airport in the state were also put forth.
He said 1,128 chartered flights had arrived in Goa during last tourist season against 850 during the current season till now.
“There is no facility at the airport for overnight parking. Also, there are restrictions in terms of landing of air planes because the airport is naval facility,” he said.
He said Goa is the only state where tourism comes by chartering flights.
While it is true that the current set up at the Dabolim Airport lacks adequate facilities for parking and maintenance of aircraft, last year with the same facilities the chartered flight arrivals were about 40 per cent more for the same period – October 2013 to January 2014.
The corporation is also pitching in for lucrative measures to boost the number of tourists.
Meanhwile the Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said the steep fall in the number of Russian tourists visiting the state this season is due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s guidelines to them.
Putin has ordered Russians not to move out of the country for leisure and fun, fearing it will further affect the already shaky Russian economy, Parulekar told reporters at a conference at the Goa tourism headquarters in Panaji.
“The problem is that the Russian economy is down. The rouble has come down. Putin has given guidelines, asking Russians not to travel outside the country, unless it is an official visit,” Parulekar replied when asked about the reason behind the decreasing number of Russian tourists this season.
“They (Russians) can travel within their own country. That is the reason why their overall number has come down in the state,” he said.
Goa’s tourism season stretches from October to March and the 2013-14 season has been marked by a significant drop in the number of foreign tourists, especially Russians.
While the tourism minister was unable to give an exact number, he said the drop was as much as 30 to 35 percent. More than one lakh Russians arrived in Goa in the 2012-13 season.
Parulekar said the tourism ministry has been making efforts to explore Europe and look beyond Russia to market Goa as a tourism destination in the hope of getting more tourists for the coming season.
What Parulekar has failed to notice though or chooses to conveniently notice is the fact that the wealthy Russians are travelling to other parts like Spain, Portugal and the not-so-rich Russians are traveling to Philippines and Vietnam in larger numbers this year.
Goa’s mild winter sun works as a good break for travelers from Russia, Britain and Germany from the harsh winter in their countries. Three million tourists visit Goa annually, nearly half a million of whom are foreigners.
with inputs from PTI, IANS and agencies