The Goan tourism industry stakeholders are seeking government support in improving international flight connectivity to the state.
According to the stakeholders, arrivals of foreign tourists in the ongoing season are being hit by insufficient landing slots to foreign airlines at the Goa International Airport, Dabolim.
The problem of inadequate slots to foreign airlines is faced in the international charter segment where airlines are willing to bring in tourists but are unable to operate because of lack of landing slots at the airport, said the stakeholders.
“Since the Dabolim terminal is a naval airport, the state government must negotiate with the Navy and seek better landing facilities for foreign airlines,” suggested stakeholders.
The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), the representative body of the hospitality and tourism industry raised the issue of inadequate international connectivity at an industry- government meeting held discuss the tourism roadmap for the future.
Earnest Dias, managing committee member, TTAG, pointed out that, due to time restrictions at the Dabolim airport by the Navy it is difficult and expensive for foreign airlines to land in the state.
“It is necessary to ease landing facilities for foreign charters at Dabolim by giving quick permissions to land and removing the roadblocks,” said Dias.
Other issues raised by the TTAG were further reduction in Goods and Service Tax (GST), rationalisation of hike in excise duties on alcohol imposed in Goa Budget 2020-21, the taxi problem, licence to operate for five years instead of the present annual renewal of licences for hotels.
TTAG members said that the state is losing out to neighbouring tourism destinations, which are encouraging the international airlines by lowering the landing rates and have lower taxation rate.
The industry body also called for developing alternative avenues to attract footfalls such as agro-tourism, hinterland tourism, etc.
The meeting was attended by representative of leading hotels in the state, tour organisers and operators of weddings and events and officials of the state tourism department.
The Chief Minister Pramod Sawant made an appearance during the later half of the discussion while the Tourism Minister Manohar (Babu) Ajgaonkar was absent for the meeting.
Stakeholders pointed out that the state has primarily become a weekend holiday destination and high airfares during weekends and holidays are discouraging to the foreign arrivals.
The round-table meeting, ‘Goa Tourism Vision 2035: Shaping the path of progress’, was organised by the Vibrant Goa Foundation.
Foreign tourist arrivals in the ongoing season are estimated to have fallen by about 40 per cent primarily due to the collapse of Thomas Cook, UK.
About 60 per cent of the hotels in the northern belt are facing poor occupancy due to the crash in the foreign charter market.
Further due to subdued domestic footfalls hotels have started lowering the rates, according to the stakeholders.