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TTAG contests dept claims on tourist footfall

NT NETWORK

Panaji

Terming the state tourism department’s statistics on tourist footfalls ‘inaccurate’, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), the apex body representing the hotel and travel trade in Goa, has rejected the claims of the tourism department that there is an increase in tourist arrivals by 2.95 per cent in 2018 as compared to the footfalls in 2017.

As per the figures of the tourism department, in 2018 a total of 80,15,400 tourists arrived in the state as against 77,85,693 in the year 2017 which includes both domestic and foreign tourists, while the provisional figures provided by the department reveals that from January up to August this year, 42,00,434 tourists visited
the state.

Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar endorsing the figures of the department had recently said that the tourist footfalls in Goa this season (2019-2020) is quite similar to that of the last season adding that during this season over 80 lakh domestic tourists have visited the state while the foreign tourists arrival was approximately around nine lakh which also included 91,703 tourists who arrived in the state via 312 charter flights.

TTAG president Savio Messias said that Goa doesn’t have a system in place to keep a tab on the number of tourists visiting the state.

“There are three international direct flights coming in – Air Arabia, Oman, and Qatar, on these flights you cannot count everyone as tourists. There are a lot of Indians specifically Goans who return to the state. We don’t have a system in place to know how many of travelers on international flights are tourists and how many are non-tourists. If you come by international flights they may consider you as a foreigner. All foreigners coming to Goa are not tourists, they may be coming to Goa on a business trip,” Messias said.

The TTAG president said that it was very visible that there is a significant drop in the tourist footfalls over the last few years adding, “If seven flights a week are canceled and not substituted with other flights then how can there be an increase, the figures of the department are disputable.”

Messias said that the people are availing loans to set up their business by quoting ‘inaccurate’ figures as a result of which Goa have excess hotels and taxis on the road which are now creating problems for the industry.

“The department should undertake a survey for at least two months. One month during the peak season and one month during the off season. During the period, we should have volunteers at all the state borders and at railway stations, Airport and Port to collect data to find out how many come as tourists and how many for other purposes,” he suggested.  

President of the Small and Medium Hoteliers Association of Goa Serafino Cota also said that the figures of the tourism department could be wrong as there is no fool-proof system in place which can give the precise statistics of tourists.  

“For the last 20 years, we have failed to keep a count of tourists who are coming to Goa. Everybody coming to Goa through Airport is not a tourist. 30 per cent British tourists are staying in unregistered homes and other premises, and from this unregistered space, there is zero revenue to the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tourism director Menino D’Souza said that once the department brings the online hospitality companies under the ambit of the government, the figures of the tourist footfall may even cross 1 crore.

He informed that the government will soon come out with a uniform methodology to ascertain the number of tourists visiting the state.  

“A central government-funded scheme will be implemented so as to ascertain the number of tourists, we have received administrative approval and soon a consultant will be appointed by GTDC, who will undertake the task. The number of tourists staying in premises provided by online hospitality companies and the tourist visiting the state by road will also be counted,” he said adding a mechanism will be worked out to differentiate between tourists
and visitors. 

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