Panaji, Oct 11 (UNI) Arrival of the first chartered flight carrying 257 passengers from Germany marked the beginning of the tourist season today in this international tourist destination of Goa even as the Dabolim airport is poised for round-the-clock operations from Monday.
Welcoming the foreign tourists with roses and music by the police band marked the ceremonial reception amid bon homie organised by the State Department of Tourism at the airport.
The Condor flight from Frankfurt, carrying the tourists, reached Goa picking up the foreigners enroute Dubai. Goa continues to be the most favoured destination for even Australians, Israelis, Russians, Britors, the French and the Americans, leave alone the Germans.
With as many as 25 lakh tourists, both foreign and domestic, expected this season, the Goa Tourism Development Corporation had, for the first time, made elaborate security arrangements at the beaches all along the 105 km coastline of the island state.
The authorities have deployed experienced lifeguards with sophisticated equipment at the busy beach fronts even as the Corporation has plans to launch a VHF communication network with GPs connectivity for monitoring the beach traffic on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, Mr Paul Manickam, director of the Dabolim airport attached with the Airport Authority of India (AAI), told UNI that the AAI expected more than 800 chartered flights to land at the airport this season.
As many as 717 flights had already been confirmed for landing against 776 flights in the last October-April season, even as the authorities had readied enough manpower to handle the traffic at the airport.
The airport, he said, would start working round the clock from October 15 with the sophisticated night landing facility in place.
All the chartered flights have rescheduled their landing for nights while the daytime slots with parking bays have already been earmarked for the regular domestic operators, he said.
The aircraft hitherto were allowed to land between 0600 hrs and 1900 hrs causing a lot of inconvenience to the chartered flights flying from abroad. Now they could land during the right hours also.
The Indian Naval authorities, administering the airport under their control, have also posted their manpower for monitoring the night landing to ensure smooth functioning of the systems at the airport.
It is interesting to note that the tourists, both foreign and domestic, outnumber the 14 lakh population of Goa, one of the five most sought after tourist destinations of the world.
Goa is known for its golden beaches, sun and sand, besides rich hospitality reflecting a milieu of cultural heritage being a Portuguese colony till it was liberated in 1961.
The authorities are also trying to promote non-traditional tourism segments like hinterland tourism with water sports besides health tourism with several corporate hospitals gearing themselves up to meet the demand.
Meanwhile, the police have also stepped up vigil along the beaches for possible drug pushers and smugglers besides paedophiles and other sex offenders who had, of late, found a cosy haven in Goa.