"Russian tourists are backbone of our 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 told PTI at the sidelines of Familiarisation tour organised for Russian tour operators in Goa.
He said the department was eyeing a 10 per cent growth this year but with downturn in the Russian economy, the business might be affected.
"We want to increase numbers and like to have ten per cent growth but unfortunately due to recession some of the Russian operators might have gone bust. It might affect the charters coming in this season but we are extensively trying to push and sell Goa," he said.
Tourists from Russia contributes for the highest number of foreign travellers in the beach state. Last year, Russian travellers accounted for 1.2 lakh, out of total five lakh foreign tourists in the state.
Dias said that the state is pushing itself not only as a beach destination but also as a family, heritage and sports destination. "We want to maintain the number of arrivals and whatever increase happens it should be in sync with our carrying capacity which has reached its peak," he said, adding, that the state is developing infrastructure required to cater for the growth.
Commenting on the current Ukraine crisis that might impede Russian tourism growth, he said those crisis are something that is political and hoped that it will not affect the arrivals here.
"People who are travelling to Goa, specially from Russian countries will not be affected by it (crisis). Those who want to come have already pre-booked their tickets," he said.
"Now people from Moscow and surrounding areas are coming to Goa. We want to tap every nook and corner because everybody has a spending power. Buying a chartered ticket is not expensive. Our main motto is to create awareness," he added.
One of the Russian delegation members, Ekaterina Varkopulo, a sales executive with Air Arabia, said that majority of the tourists visiting Goa, wants to come back.
"Russian tourists looks out for beaches. About 70 per cent of those who come here definitely wants to come back," she said.