Less charters, few Russians to affect Goa tourism


Goa's tourism industry will depend heavily on Indian holidaymakers in winter as travel agencies claim fewer Russian charters will be flying to the state in the peak season this year due to the depreciation of the rouble and the Ukrainian political crisis.

As per industry estimates, Goa is likely to see a drop of 10-15 per cent in the number of charter flights this winter from 996 arrivals last year.

"We expect that the more affluent Russians may choose to go to Europe and USA, instead of Goa, this peak season. We will have to rely on business from the Indian consumer," said Thomas Abraham, GM, The Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa. 

"From 40 per cent last year, this season nearly half of our clientele in the peak season will comprise of Indians," he added.
Goa has about 63 hotels and 10,000 rooms, according to state tourism. Luxury resort The Leela Goa gets nearly 40 per cent business between October and April from charters, of which nearly 60 per cent are from Russia.

"The outlook for charters isn't positive this season primarily because the rouble has depreciated and the spending power of Russians is going to be lower against the dollar. We are hoping we get some repeat Russian travellers from last year from scheduled flights," said the hotel's general manager Shridhar Nair.

With hotels competing for a smaller pool of tourists, Nair said, "This year has been a great learning for resorts and hotels because they will be going all out to woo these domestic travellers and it could lead to a hotel price war."
Goa received nearly 5 lakh international tourists last year, about two lakh of which arrived through charters. Hoteliers say just 15 per cent of the nearly 26 lakh domestic tourists to Goa stay in branded hotels. 

Travel operator Cox & Kings expects a growth of over 25 per cent in domestic tourists to Goa this year compared to the previous year while online travel agency Goibibo. com is hopeful of good business from the state in the coming season.
CEO Sanjay Bhasin said hoteliers and travel companies were not worried since a lot of travellers are diverting their plans from Kashmir and Kerala to Goa.
"So even though charters may take away some business from hotels, Indian hotel patrons will possibly make up for the gap," he said.

According to a hospitality sector report by HVS, last year Goa recorded the highest revenue per available room at 4,778 among the 13 major markets in India.
The report on trends and opportunities adds that Goa has witnessed a continuous increase in revenue per available room for the past five years at 6.9 per cent annual growth. 
One of the main factors for this growth has been an upswing in domestic hotel consumption patterns and promising growth from the meetings and incentive segment.

Cidade de Goa hotel, which gets charters from Scandinavia and the United Kingdom, is hoping for more stable business.
"We will rely on charters from Europe, last-minute travellers as well as on the Indian destination wedding segment for business.
The state will also see higher tourists from within India since people are unsure about travelling to politically disturbed destinations like Hong Kong, Greece, Syria etc," said Neeta Brid, general manager of the hotel. 


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