Tourism as an economic activity has been profitable for several states. This contrasts with Goa where it has been a very painful experience this year. AJIT JOHN looked at the numbers generated by other states and also spoke to tourism professionals here to gain an understanding
The subject of tourism is a very emotional subject in the State. Yes, of course after mining no doubt. But with that activity suspended there is a lot of attention on tourism. Matters were not helped by the fact numbers this year, more importantly in terms of international visitors were very poor. The dramatic drop in the number of charter flights pointed to a drop-in the number of foreigners visiting Goa. Or more specifically the tourists very focussed on a tight budget. But how did other parts of the country fare? Was there a decline in numbers too or was it just a timely indication for the administrators in the State to sort their problems out.
According to data available on Delhi, around 3 million foreign tourists visited the city. With regards domestic tourists, around 30 million visited the State. The number of domestic tourists increased 14.4% in the 2017-18 season and the international tourists by 7 % to 8%. The executive the Herald spoke to did not have the clearance to speak to the media but he said the authorities expected growth in both domestic and international to be good.
With regards to Karnataka which has a lot to offer the numbers were interesting. In 2018, the state played host to 21.43 crore domestic tourists and 5.43 lakh international visitors. A total of 21.48 crore visitors. This was an increase from 18.04 crore visitors in 2017. A look at the numbers generated by Gujarat also seemed impressive, according to December 2018 figures, around 50 million visitors were clocked in. They are ambitious enough to target 75 million by 2020.
Despite the floods Kerala recorded an increase of Rs 2,874.33 crore with over 16.7 million tourists visiting the state in 2018. In 2017, the state had recorded 15.76 million visitors.
What about Goa? In 2018 the State had a total of 31.58 lakh visitors both domestic and international. Numbers for the months gone by in 2019 are not known. Attempts to ask for the data are met by a winsome smile. It is not difficult to realise that states like Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Karnataka have a strategy in place. On the website promoting Kerala tourism, data is available district wise as to number of visitors as well as the revenue generated each year from the industry.
A senior executive in the Goa tourism department who did not want to come on record said “The clamour for increasing tourist footfalls in Goa is fuelled by the greed of the hoteliers. They just want to keep constructing new hotels. That has got to stop, we have to start looking at enhancing the experience. You have to also understand Goa is a small state and we cannot keep focussing on increasing the numbers of tourists every year. This year there was a great deal of emotion spent over the dramatic drop in foreign tourists but that was augmented by the number of domestic tourists. We need to get our house in order and make that visit of every tourist to Goa a first-rate experience.”
Meanwhile, Sanjiv Gadkar, director Goa Tourism inaugurated the India Travel Mart (ITM) GOA-India’s leading International Travel and Tourism Exhibition in the city. Also present were government officials from Goa Tourism, Kerala Tourism, India Tourism, Bihar Tourism, Rajasthan Tourism, Jharkhand Tourism, West Bengal Tourism, Himachal Pradesh Tourism, Delhi Tourism, Karnataka Tourism, IRCTC and other Delegates, Exhibitors, Travel Trade, Travel Agents, Tour Organizers, Hoteliers, Media and General Public.
Speaking to the Herald he said “We have to take policy decisions in a months’ time to help get tourism back on its feet. This season is almost done, in the next season expect changes that will make it a very good experience for all.”