Ajit JohnGood times are here. And it is expected to get even better. Yes, there is good news coming out of Goa. After two years of really tough times for the tourism industry, it looks like business will be good.Ajith Nair Head Of Sales & Marketing at The Zuri White Sands Goa Resort & Casino said he was very positive about the season. He felt if the third wave did not come in, it would be great. Ajith felt the worst was behind. In fact there were a number of enquiries for inbound tourism. He said “As far as domestic business was concerned, November will be decent in terms of occupancy. The market is picking up. We will match business from the pre-covid days. The rates are getting better. October was better than previous years. That’s where we stand. September in fact was better in terms of occupancy. Importantly the wedding season will start after November 19. Prior to that it will be all families on a Diwali break. We do around 50-60 weddings in a season and we will do impressive numbers this season too. We will have weddings till March. Importantly rates are bouncing back. Yes, I am happy with the state of affairs.” He went on to say that charters were also in touch and he expected business from that sector in the New Year. Savio Messias, a hotelier, sounded very pleased while speaking about the forthcoming season. He said “It will be a rocking season. This is because domestic tourists are coming in big numbers. People have been deprived of a holiday for a long time and they now want to travel and yes the charters are coming and that will add to the numbers”. Speaking about rates he said it was subject to demand. The hoteliers he said had taken a beating and now the demand was very good. Rates he said would go back to the old days. He said at one point of time rooms were given at throw away rates. Even now some properties had reduced rates. Many hotels had given these rates a couple of months ago when it was really bad and guests were in those properties now. However he felt that would change in November. Domestic demand was very high. Charters, he said would find it difficult to get rooms. Hotels were being booked for weddings which had now returned to Goa with a vengeance. They usually took up a big number of rooms. This would result in an increase in room rates. That Savio said was the usual response to huge demand and less supply.Mr. Vincent Ramos, Area Director – IHCL Goa and General Manager Taj Hotel & Convention Centre said he expected the season to be excellent. He said ”The last season was very good. With the lockdown in place, we did very well with high profits. People who seriously spend are coming to Goa. We don’t have cheap tourists coming to Goa, we have the high end tourists. They can’t travel abroad and are coming here. Business has been good for a lot of people. I was speaking to the person who organises water sports and he said business was fantastic for him. Now we are getting conferences, weddings so it’s all good. The government has done a good job”. Rates he said were increasing and would continue to do so. They were getting bookings from places as diverse as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune and Kanpur.Anand Chatterjee, GM Planet Hollywood echoed these sentiments that if there was no third wave, business would rock. Domestic tourists were coming in large numbers and charters would be starting again. Rates were slowly moving to times before Corona. He said “We have not hiked rates to those levels, we are not greedy. Business has been better than expected. We secured a lot of business at low rates. This year no one had the courage to hold on to the rates and so to secure business we dropped rates. Now of course rates are increasing. It will be a good season.”These may be hotels in the five star range but it still seems tough for those in the one, two and three star range. Serafin Cotta who heads the federation for medium and small hotels said he along with his association members were keeping their fingers crossed. He said “We expect the Russian charter business after November 15. With regards to the English charters we are awaiting information. The Russians are showing a lot of interest”. Speaking about the domestic boom in Goa he said all of them were staying in 4 or 5 star properties because the rates had reduced dramatically. Serafin said “You are getting 4 star properties for Rs 4000. They will not come to us even if we offer it for Rs 1000. The 4 and 5 star properties offer much more in the room and their property which we cannot match”. He however hoped the season would be good.
This air of confidence is a welcome improvement from the time when hotel executives only spoke doom and gloom. One can only hope it works out well because it is an industry that employs tens of thousands.