Goa eyes more tourists; to tap hike in visa on arrival

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New Delhi, Mar 8: Goa is preparing to cash in on the Centre's plan to increase visa on arrival facility to 150 countries while it eyes double-digit growth rate in the number of tourist arrivals this year.

Apart from promoting local festivals such as Carnival, Shigmo, Sao Jao and Goa Heritage Festival, the Goa Tourism Department is starting services such as seaplanes, hot air balloons, heli-tourism, amphibious vehicles and also promoting the state as a wedding destination.

Goa

"We definitely expect a double-digit growth rate in number of tourist arrivals in 2015. Increase in visas on arrivals from 43 countries to 150 countries will lead to a significant increase in foreign tourist arrivals," Department of Tourism Director Ameya Abhyankar told PTI.

In 2014, Goa hosted a total of 40,58,226 tourists out of which 35,44,634 were domestic tourists while the number of foreign tourists stood at 5,13,592.

Considering the opportunities, he said the tourism department is taking a number of initiatives to woo tourists. "The tourism department is also launching a number of new services such as seaplanes, hot-air balloons, heli-tourism, amphibious vehicles, segway tours, hop on hop off tour service," Abhyankar said.

Steps are also being taken to enhance air and rail connectivity, he added. Traditionally a favoured destinations of visitors from Russia, the UK and Germany, the state is also looking to expand beyond traditional markets.

"To increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals we are tapping new potential source markets like the US, Australia, New Zealand, Jordan and Finland," Abhyankar said.

He, however, said the focus on traditional source markets such as Russia, the UK and Germany would remain. For domestic tourists, the state is hard-selling itself as a beach wedding destination, apart from taking initiatives to promote festival tourism, leisure and MICE, Abhyankar said.

"We are planning to put in a place Tourism Master Plan that will build a 25-year perspective on how the tourism industry should grow ... the department is also planning into bring a new legislation for a certification driven system for licensing to crystallise standards for different verticals of tourism trade," he added.

PTI

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