Goa to be high on foreign arrivals but low on charters

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Panaji, Jan 17 (PTI) Goa expects around 12 per cent risein the foreign tourist arrivals this season even as itrecorded a dip in guest arrivals by chartered flights.

State Tourism Director Swapnil Naik said that freeindependent travellers (FITs) arriving from the overseasdestinations in the state are on the rise.

"We expect that they will contribute for the overallforeign arrivals resulting in almost 12-15 per cent risecompared to last year," he said.

Goa gets around four lakh foreign tourists annually, mostof whom arrive from the European nations.

Naik said that the new destinations like Holland haveopened up for this season and also the inflow of tourists fromplaces like Polland and Kazakhstan has picked up.

In addition, the tourism department expects Russians tocross the last year''s mark of 40,000 arrivals.

However, the director said that the scene on thechartered flight front is not bright.

"We have good number of chartered flights arriving in thestate but they are marred with low occupancy," he said.

The state had recorded 375 chartered flights tillDecember 31 but there is a drop by almost 7 per cent in thetourists arriving by these flights.

Naik said that the new visa regulations which do notallow the long vacations are affecting Goa�s tourism prospectsespecially chartered flight arrivals.

"There are some people who want to come to Goa for longerholidays," he said.

He said that State Tourism Minister Nilkant Halarnkar haswritten to the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram requestinghim to make Goa as a special case.

"The minister has requested that the visa rules berelaxed for Goa as it is affecting long staying tourists andalso repeat guests," he said adding that the state receiveslarge number of repeat clienteles.

Goa is also contemplating the possibility of meeting theunion home minister with a delegation consisting hoteliers,politicians and officials to explain how visa norms aredenting the tourism industry.

"We have taken up the issue serious as if such visa normscontinue in near future than the tourism is going to suffer ina big way," he said.

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