Charter flow not much affected

| 17 November 2001 22:13 IST

While Indian government is working out a seven-point programme to overcome the post-11 September setback and attract foreign tourists, Goa appears to be still getting foreigners as usual.

No doubt there is little setback, but figures show not a large amount of drop in the tourist inflow due to war threat that is haunting all over the world. In fact, the WTC tragedy coincided with the beginning of the tourist season in Goa.

"There is no reason to panic till date", states chief minister Manohar Parrikar. He has however convened a meeting on 21 November to assess the situation and work out damage control methods, if necessary.

Goa normally gets over two lakh foreigners every year, nearly half of which are flying down in charter flights from various European countries, especially the UK. Around 10,000 Americans also visit Goa, besides people from countries like Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Austria and France.

While the expectation this year was around three lakh, 2.91 lakh foreigners visited the state last year. Around 1.16 lakh among them were solely brought by 419 charter flights landed here from several European countries.

Compared to the last year's figures till date, Goa has still received seven charter flights in October, bringing 1928 tourists against 2087 last year. Similarly, 20 flights have landed at Dabolim airport till 11 November with 6191 tourists while the number was 6439 last year of 24 flights.

"It proves that more charter tourists have flown down to Goa on an average than last year", points out S V Balaram, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa. He however admits that substantial drop in fare, from UKP 500 to 300, is also the reason.

"We have no problem with November and even December, but do not know what will happen in January", states Ernest Dias of Sita Travels, since most of the tourists scheduled to come down in January have cancelled their bookings after 11 September. In terms of charter flights, UK's Martine Air, Britannia and Air Tour have not shown their face here till date, besides LTU of Germany. However, in spite of war threat, Germany's Condor flight landed here on 11 November, almost after a decade once again.

The Dabolim airport authorities also state that the drop is marginal, with 13 flights still arriving here in a week (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) while it was around 19 per week last year.

However, since the equally large number of Frequent Individual Traveller (FIT) and Group Individual Traveller (GIT) has preferred to stay away from Goa, several hotels including star hotels have dropped their tariff.

In fact, it is for the first time in Goa that resorts have advertised for a special Diwali package for couples and families in the midst of the season. Such kind of offers are normally made during off-season like monsoons.

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