ROHAN SHRIVASTAV | NT
PANAJI: Russians have been dominating the arrival of foreign tourists in Goa for seven years in a row. Of the nearly 9 lakh foreign tourists that arrived in the state in 2017, more than half (4.9 lakh) came from Russia.
The arrival of a large number of tourists from Russia is an indicator that Goa is a major tourist attraction for them. The number of guests from Russia has grown over the last decade by leaps and bounds.
The year 2017 saw an increase of almost 30 per cent in the arrival of foreign tourists in Goa as compared to 2016. In 2017, the total number of foreign tourists that arrived in the state was 8,90,459 of which 4,90,015 were Russians.
According to data provided by the tourism department, Goa recorded a substantial rise in the number of tourists from Russia in 2016 when the state witnessed a sharp rise of 151 per cent in the arrival of Russians compared to the arrivals in the year 2015. A total number of 3,76,957 Russian tourists visited Goa in 2016 via different modes of transport and in 2017, the figure rose up to 4,90,015 thus registering a rise of 29 per cent.
On the other hand, the state witnessed a substantial drop of 35 per cent in the arrival of tourists from the United Kingdom (UK) in 2017. A total of 1,29,940 UK tourists visited Goa in 2016, while in 2017, 83,987 UK tourists arrived in the state.
Even though there is a decline in the number of tourists arriving from Germany since 2014, Germany stands third in the list with 27,913 tourists in 2017. The data also reveals that from countries like Finland, France and Iran, only around 6,000 tourists visited Goa. However, in 2017, this figure increased by around 50 per cent. There is also a 28 per cent rise in the number of tourists coming from Portugal.
Director of the tourism department Menino D’Souza attributed the rise in the overall arrivals to efforts put in by the department in the promotion of tourism activities. “We participate in world travel marts in different nations. In addition to that, we feel that the tourists who visit the state recommend Goa over other destinations for holiday to their family and friends,” said D’Souza.
Vice president of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) Ernest Dias said that Goa has been fortunate because other destinations in the world have been witnessing unrest and political turmoil. Hence, Russians prefer Goa, which is considered to be a safe ‘haven for tourists.’ “Russia is one of the largest countries in the world. They have a good impression about Goa as a beach destination and they are come from different regions of Russia. Hence, we have had an influx of Russian tourists to Goa,” he said.
Raising grave concern, Dias said that the cost of operation of chartered flights to Goa is rising and that may lead to a drop in the tourist arrivals from Russia in the near future. “Competing countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Egypt are providing incentives to tour operators. Hence, it is a cause of worry for us,” he said.