South East Asia recession hits Goa tourism

| 04 January 1998 23:13 IST

Recession in South East Asia has badly hit the tourism industry in Goa, the favourite international tourist destination, though the local authorities still deny the fact merely based on statistical figures.

"The business is down by 30 per cent", admits K D Row, chairman of Goa Tourism and Travel Association, suggesting that concentrating more on domestic upmarket tourists is the best remedy to sustain the vacillating industry here.

Goa normally gets 20 per cent foreign tourists out of total 1.2 million annual visitors with its peak season spread between October to January. Its major 80 per cent earnings, however, are from the foreign tourists, including the charter tourism.

The charter arrivals, which began from October last year, are down eight per cent in terms of number of tourists while almost 10 less charters have landed this time despite allowing additional slots during weekdays from Denmark.

Compared to 36,291 charter tourists arrived in three months last year, the number went down to 33,432 this year. In fact the season began with a major setback as only eight charters landed in October compared to 21 in the previous season.

"But the number of tourists is higher in the following two months", points out Ulhas Kamat, the tourism director, in an attempt to hide the declining trend. He however admits that the domestic fares are still higher compared to the more attractive packages offered for Thailand or Singapore.

While acute financial crunch has put on hold all the developmental projects the state had planned to improve the decaying infrastructure, tourism minister Joaquim Alemao, himself a hotelier, is planning to take firm stance for the industry's survival.

"I will not allow rent-back facility homes any more", he says since 1500 such rooms in almost 25 homes along the Baga-Calangute coastline has severely hit the actual hotels due to its unimaginable cheaper rates. As a result, even the hotels have slashed down room tariff by 50 per cent.

Besides around 2500 paying guest rooms meant for middle class foreign tourists and 8500 lodgings for general tourists, Goa now has a capacity to accommodate 3600 upmarket tourists in around 53 hotels of various star categories, from one star to star deluxe.

Alemao also appears to have taken the Goa Tourism and Travel Association's suggestion seriously to display a list of point-to-point taxi fares at each hotel. "Tourists also shy away from Goa because the taxi drivers charge them exorbitantly", alleges Row.

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