Yet another year has gone by and like every other previous year, except for the Covid-19 pandemic hit years of 2020-21, Goa was choco-bloc with tourists in the later part of December encompassing the Christmas and New Year week.
While the official numbers are yet to be compiled, many in the industry believe that footfalls are dwindling and the reasons are many: Pricing, poor intra-state transportation options, faltering infrastructure and poor upkeep of the shoreline (beaches) which arguably is Goa’s chief tourist attraction. These and more are the reasons why Goa is seemingly losing out to some of its nearby South-East Asian destinations.
But industry sources say, Goa is still listed as a favourite among other Indian destinations, by several surveys indicating that tourism which is arguably Goa’s economic mainstay, is not likely to collapse very soon as some doomsayers want us to believe, the challenges to sustain the ‘hot tourist destination’ tag in the long term are many in the face of stiff competition from other international destinations like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Egypt and even Vietnam and Cambodia in the far east. Some of these countries offer visa-free travel.
Yet thanks to the ample sun, sand and sea that it offers, Goa still attracts and will continue to attract visitors. And now, having evolved as one of the country’s top party destinations, it has become extremely popular among those aged 35 and under from across the country.
That said, Goa’s leaders in the tourism sector will have to be wary of competing destinations, what with Vietnam and Bali making a nine-day trip, inclusive of 4-star hotel stay, cruises and domestic travel by air possible for just Rs 80,000.
Business as usual (SUBHEAD)
Footfalls this last December may not have been at the same level as in 2022 but it was business as usual, especially in North Goa.
A fair indicator that the economy around tourism did not take any significant hit was the fact that taxmen paid visits to at least 40 establishments in the North earlier last week, said an industry source.
“If business was hit and not much money was made, what did the I-T department come to look for? Obviously people in the hospitality industry made loads of money,” said a top executive in the hotel industry.
It hasn’t been a year where Goa is a paradise for the tourism sector and there have been several hiccups this season leading to the all-important Christmas-New Year week when air fares hit the roof and hotel room tariffs soared to the skies.
The industry in Goa has faced quite a few hiccups like the delay in issuing shack licences, constantly changing policies and regulations and the sound pollution conundrum which could dampen Goa’s surge as the nation’s party capital.
Fall in footfalls
Tourism and Travel Association of Goa (TTAG) president, Nilesh Shah believes Goa has already beaten pre-Covid levels as far as arrival of domestic tourists is concerned.
As for international tourists, Goa has not even touched 50 per-cent of the pre-Covid levels.
The reasons for this are many. Pricing may or may not be one of them. Goa is fully dependent on charters for international tourists which mostly came from Russia and Israel. Both these countries are entangled in wars which has hit the number of charters touching down in Goa,” Shah said.
In 2019, Goa had nearly a million foreign tourists. This year it is unlikely to reach even half that level, industry sources said.