War threat hits Goan tourism

| 22 September 2001 22:14 IST

Uncertainty looms large over Goa, a favourite international tourist destination in India, due to the threat of war breaking out any moment.

Foreign bookings, especially of the Europeans, have already started getting cancelled in the sector of Frequent Individual Traveller (FIT) and Group Individual Traveller (GIT).

The tourism industry however is more worried about charters getting cancelled, though no formal confirmation in this regard has come so far.

Sources in the industry however admit that the first charter flight from UK, scheduled to reach here on 8 October, is already cancelled. The next one is scheduled on 14 October, again from UK.

The major chunk of foreign tourists Goa receives is from UK, (32 per cent), followed by Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Austria and France, among other countries. Around 10,000 Americans also visit the coastal state in western India.

While 2.91 lakh foreigners visited the state last year, 1.16 lakh among them were solely brought by 419 charter flights landed here from several European countries. Though it amount to only 20 per cent of the total tourist inflow, the revenue earning on it is almost 80 per cent, due to foreign exchange.

"There is no panic situation so far", claims P G Kenkre, representing the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa. He still hopes that tourist inflow will continue if USA fights a prolonged war, without much bombing but in a different manner.

The state was expecting over three lakh foreign tourists this season, beginning next month, with the inflow reaching peak level during Christmas and New Year season.

"Booking are bound to get cancelled once the war breaks out", confirms Alu Gomes, area manager of Travel Corporation of India. He also admits a dead end on booking front since 11 September, the day twin towers and Pantagon were attacked in the USA.

Though Goa's major tourist inflow is domestic in nature, most of the star hotels, rent back facilities and even thousands of small shacks on the beaches survive on foreign tourists. Against average five-day stay of domestic tourist, the foreigner stays for at least nine days in Goa, spending a lot on booze and continental food.

"No charter will come to Goa if insurance premium is hiked in European countries after bombing starts", points out Sudin Naik, president of the Goa Small Industries Association. The charter tour includes both travel and accommodation at discounted rates, to attract middle-class tourist from western countries.

After a steep decline in regular growth rate since 1998, Goa had received almost 24 per cent more foreigners last year, bringing a great hope that it would bring fortunes this year. The war threat however has poured cold water on it, which may affect Goan economy severely.

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