PANJIM: Tourism is set to bounce back as charter tourists are arriving from December 7 with UK-bound visitors to land in Goa from December 13. The first charter flight is expected to land at Dabolim international airport from Kazakhstan.
While the coastal State is fortunately recording unprecedented domestic footfalls keeping up the spirits of tourism stakeholders, charter tourists will boost the industry.
President of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) Nilesh Shah has confirmed that four charter flights - two each from Manchester and Gatwick - will arrive on December 13. In fact, he said, charter flights from UK will arrive four times a week till March 2022.
“We are expected to get 15,000 to 20,000 UK tourists to Goa per month,” Shah added while speaking to Herald.
India had locked its borders to foreign tourists for a year and a half, and opened for fully vaccinated visitors just recently signalling a new phase of the pandemic for a country that suffered some worst effects of COVID-19. Goa too faced a major setback, particularly in the tourism sector.
The tourism industry was also expecting good response from the Russian market but COVID-19 has played a spoilsport. Shah is however optimistic that Russian charters could resume operations to Goa from mid-December.
“There is no clarity on the arrival of Russian charter tourists because people are reluctant to travel owing to COVID-19 wave. They are more than willing to restart tourism but the virus has paused their travel temporarily. We expect charter flights from mid-December though,” he said.
The State highly depends on charter tourists as the annual six month long season begins from October. While there was a time when Goa received over a thousand charters during the season, there were zero charters last year owing to the pandemic that hit all the countries. With countries slowly reopening their borders for travel, India has also joined the league with restrictions.
In Goa, the stakeholders are also expected to earn good income through destination weddings. Shah said many starred hotels are booked with wedding commencing from Nov 19, 2021.