Growth in domestic tourism robs Goa of international visitors

 Thursday, July 18, 2019 


According to media reports, last year was a revelation for the Goa tourism sector. There were quite a few indications that Goa is losing its shine as an international destination. The state witnessed a constant increase in domestic arrivals and a drop in foreigners. In 2018, there was a yearly upsurge of about 25-30% in domestic arrivals and a decline in international footfalls. In the recently released white paper, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) stated that the increase in domestic arrivals did not arrest a drop in average room rates and occupancies across Goa, indicating a dip in the quality of domestic tourism.


In 2018-19, there was a 50% decline in Russian charter flights and 62,000 fewer Russian tourists visited the state, as compared to 2017-18. Tourism secretary J Ashok Kumar, while confirming the decline in foreign arrivals, said that the exact percentage in the drop could not be ascertained yet, as country-wise figures are still being compiled. After that, he said, they would find out where the state has gone wrong. The industry hasn’t exactly started feeling the pinch with the drop in foreign arrivals.


Those with insight of probable troubles emerging are worried. Former TTAG president Francisco de Braganca, said, “There is a cause for worry. The growth has been more or less unregulated.” Goa picked up the tag of an international destination in the 1970s as hippies started visiting the state. The tourism secretary said that the state would find out where it went wrong Low budget tourists need facilities The Calangute, Baga, Candolim beach stretches were favoured spots of foreign tourists but no more. “Domestic tourism happened after Goa became established as an international tourism destination. It is turning into any other crowded hill station in the country and fast losing its charm,” Braganca said.


Atish Fernandes, director of First Class Holidays, said it is never a good trend for a destination to be over dependent on visitors of any one country. “A mixed market is the correct way for a vibrant destination. An over reliance on the domestic market will erode brand Goa,” he said. No one is suggesting Goa close its door to low-budget domestic tourists or become discriminatory. All TTAG is asking is to create facilities for domestic tourists who come in private vehicles and litter places. During weekends and holidays, traffic congestions in the coastal belt are at its peak. Braganca said unchecked growth of domestic tourism has contributed to some extent to the state’s civic problems. “There is garbage everywhere and traffic jams are the next normal. We have exceeded our carrying capacity,” he said.


TTAG president Savio Messias said the trend needs to be arrested before it is too late. “We hope the government steps in to stop further negative growth in the international segment.” Fernandes suggested ways to tackle the situation. “Sustained marketing and focus on key infrastructure issues such as garbage and viable transport options, parking facilities is what we have to seriously do,” he said.


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