Greed & Y2K compels Goa cry for tourists

| 19 December 1999 22:59 IST

Artificial shortage of accommodation created by local hoteliers and preoccupation of thousands of regular Indian visitors with the Y2K problem has severely affected the tourist inflow in Goa, considered to be one of the World's topmost destination this year.

"Room tariff has been inflated by the hoteliers to an unimaginable point", observes S S Keshkamat, the tourism director, while analysing why the tourist inflow is on decline this year. The only hope is tourists flocking to Goa to celebrate the New Year.

The scene has been discouraging right from the time season began in October, in terms of foreign as well as domestic tourists. While the first month recorded almost 700 less foreign tourists this time than around 26,000 last year, the state received hardly 300 more foreign tourists in November.

Similar is the scene with charter tourists, most of which comprise of lower middle class from UK, Germany and Finland. Though 20 additional charters have arrived in Goa till 26 December in last three months, the additional number does not even touch 1500. In fact, this month has witnessed less number of additional charter tourists than last month.

Perhaps the craze for Goa's beaches is slowly dying away in the western countries as the whole coastline is getting too much crowded while collapse of infrastructural facilities has been a major irritant for the tourists coming from the developed countries. Even the roads along the coastline are not properly repaired.

But most interesting is the case of domestic tourists, which comprises 80 per cent of Goa's seasonal inflow. Compared to last year's figures, the tiny state along the west coast has received around 1800 tourists less this year in November alone. The figures may go little up this month, but not as was expected by the hotel industry.

"We ourselves are responsible for this", admits Sajjan Bhatkar, a hotelier. While hiking room tariff by almost 300 per cent, they were turning back all the advance bookings claiming no vacancy. Their over-ambitious greed boomeranged as most of the Indians shifted their venue to other states.

With even 40 to 50 per cent rooms in several hotels being vacant, the hoteliers are now seen negotiating the prices to any level with no customers coming down to Goa. On the other hand, several businessmen and executives are fully engrossed in making their systems Y2K compliant, which has compelled them to cancel their plans.

A rumour that cars with outside number plates are not allowed here has also resulted in many tourists diverting their vehicles to other spots. The clarification personally issued by the chief minister that any vehicle is welcome to Goa is yet to reach all the corners of the country.

"There are more tourists, but less customers", observes another senior tourism department official. With a boom in the four-wheeler market this year, many middle class people drive down in their own private vehicles or hired ones and sleeping on the beaches rather than spending on hotel accommodation.

Besides inter-state buses, even the additional Christmas special trains by the Konkan Railway Corporation are going full till 5 January. The three airways flying down to Goa from Bombay and Delhi have also started either additional flights or planes with more capacity.

While Sahara Airlines coming down from Bombay and Delhi on alternate days has made it a daily feature till 5 January, Jet Airways has added two more flights to their weekly schedules from Bombay. Even the Indian Airlines has pressed airbuses with larger capacity into service to facilitate the travellers, mainly the Indians. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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