Ukraine effect: Goa faces prospect of falling tourist arrivals

Panaji, Dec 11: The Crimean crisis, Russia's falling rouble and stopping of tourist charter flights from international destinations might prove to be a dampener for the much-hyped New Year party scene in Goa this time, fear tourism industry experts.

While the ongoing St Francis Xavier exposition might to a certain extent off-set the impact of the decrease in tourist footfalls, the industry is not expecting many visitors to turn up for beach parties, which are tailor-made for New Year revellers. The tourism industry's major backbone -- Russian travellers -- has been hit by falling rouble and sanctions on Russia due to Ukraine conflict.

Tourist footfall drops in Goa
"What we have heard is that the charter flights from Moscow will stop coming after January 15. The New Year is grim for us. There will be hardly any party scene," said Cruz Cardoso, President, Shack Owners Welfare Society, a union of beach shack operators in Goa.

The deserted shacks, thinning crowd on beaches, and stringent government rules extracting more taxes this year have made business inviable, according to him.

Cardoso fears that few shacks might wind up soon after the New Year due to lack of business. He said majority of the total 350 beach shacks spread across the state are currently doing just 75 per cent of the expected business, and it may go further south in coming days.

Goa has been a major party destination attracting lakhs of tourists to usher in New Year. The 105-km-long beachline turns into a party spot on the New Year eve, with night-long revelry planned for visitors.

"You might get domestic tourists from cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and other two-tier cities for the parties.

"But the season does not look promising. The hotel occupancies have remained low right from October this year. The only hope we see is in the form of Visa on Arrival facility extended to various countries. That too, the facility should function properly," said Ralf D Souza, a hospitality sector expert and spokesman for Tours and Travels Association of Goa (TTAG). 


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