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Tourism hit hard by Russian tourist drop: Lobo

NT NETWORK

CALANGUTE: Sixty per cent of Russian tourists have cancelled their hotel bookings in Goa on account of weakening of Russian currency Rubble against the dollar and the war-like situation there.

Speaking about it, Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, who is also a hotelier, said due to the present situation, the room occupancy has dropped by 20-40 per cent in hotels, resorts and guest houses along the coastal belt.

“Efforts are on to save the industry from collapsing. There are fears that this may lead to thousands of Goans losing their jobs and businesses taking a severe beating. Government should now focus on wooing back UK, Swedish and Denmark tourists by providing them visas on arrival,” Lobo said.

He said a letter will be faxed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to intervene and salvage the situation.

There is a considerable decline in the foreign tourists and in the last four days the resorts, hotels, guest houses, shacks have seen poor business with room counts in South Goa declining to almost 20 per cent and in North 40 per cent as per information available with him, he said.

Stating that only during the Christmas week, the hotels are full, he said some steps will have to be taken as 60 per cent cancellation of bookings from Russian and Ukraines have led to a crisis situation.

“Tourism Minister has also been briefed on the situation and urged to attract UK, Swedish and Denmark tourists to Goa. In the past, 18 charter flights used to arrive every week, but presently only 5 flights arrive.  Swedish and Denmark charter flights are only 1-2 per week,” he said.

“I will also be apprising the chief minister and ask him to take a delegation to Delhi to meet the prime minister. I will write to the prime minister asking him to intervene in the matter and save the industry by providing visas on arrival to UK, Swedish and Denmark tourists,” he said, pointing that BJP government has extended visa-on-arrival facility to 43 countries excluding England.

“Visas are costly. If a family wants to holiday in Goa, it has to spend 416 pounds and as such British tourists prefer destinations like Sri Lanka where visas are free on arrival,” he said.

“The situation is grim and by next year it is going to be further hit as per information by top tour operators. If the tourism industry collapses then not only the locals will lose their jobs but the businesses will also suffer. Also the flow of revenue into the government treasury will be affected as the hotel industry pays eight per cent as luxury tax to the state government and 12 per cent as service tax to the central government,” he said.

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