JAN 11, 2015: Goa seems to be losing the preferred tourism destination among Russians as nearly 40,000 to 50k tourists have cancelled their bookings for the state this season, as per industry statistics.
“I have understood that there are at least 40,000 Russians who have diverted their holidays away from Goa during this season. And the downfall is likely to continue in the next season too,” Vikram Varma, legal adviser to Russian Consulate told PTI. “Russian tourists are backbone of the Goan tourism industry. Market trends are changing and South East Asia is becoming more dominant force,” Deputy General Manager (Hotels and Marketing), Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), Gavin Dias had told PTI earlier.
The current tourism season would end at 35 to 40 per cent low compared to the last year creating a crisis in this sector, industry players have claimed.
Destinations like Portugal and Spain are becoming more attractive, affordable and safer for Russian tourists, Varma said.
According to a BBC report, India relies on tourism for around 7% of its economy, and yet visitor numbers have dropped sharply over the past years.
Last year, the entire country attracted fewer than seven million tourists, compared with cities such as London, which had twice as many.
For the past few years the Indian holiday state of Goa has been building its tourism industry around the demands of Russian visitors.
Until recently they have been fun-loving and free-spending, but the falling price of oil and Western sanctions have led to a real downturn in the Russian economy, the BBC report said.
“The volatile state of the Rouble is one factor resulting in reduced tourism from Russia. But I am informed that still a large number of Russians have travelled overseas for their holidays,” “Verma said.
The law official maintained that several factors within the state that can be corrected are responsible for the tourism graph to go down.
“The widespread negative publicity in the Russian social media about conduct of taxi drivers towards Russians in Goa is a critical factor in the cancellation of bookings and their choice for alternate destinations like Spain and Portugal,” he said.
Both the countries have offered better prices and a safe environment to Russian tourists, Varma said.
“The image of Goa as a safe and competitive tourist destination has suffered a considerable setback and it would need a substantial amount of thinking by all of us to put the industry back on track. This thinking clearly needs to be out-of-the-box,” said Varma who has been helping out Russian tourists in distress in the state.
State Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar and Tourism Director Amey Abhyankar were not available for comments on the trend.
with inputs from BBC and PTI