Traditionally, Goa has always enjoyed a very important place in the international tourism market. The destination has been frequented by the international travellers in numbers. This had given rise to the air charter business to Goa. The destination was at the peak in 2013-14 when it welcomed 1128 chartered aircrafts with 261,452 tourists from across the globe. Russia was one of the major source markets in this segment. Gradually this numbers witnessed a southward growth with 215,041 travelleing in 808 chartered aircrafts in 2017-18 (up to 12-03-2018).
Speaking about the challenges Nilesh Cabral, Chairman, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) said, “There are a few challenges which still persist. The Goa Airport as of now cannot have more charter flights as the airport is used for naval flights from morning 8 AM to 12.30 PM. Also we don’t have capacity to park more charter flights overnight at the airport. Secondly, due to the fall of Rouble, there is a drop from the Russian market. This year we should improve. Also, Russian market usually travels by wide-bodied aircrafts and there is no space in current airport for more flights. Still the Russian travellers are coming to Goa; the market should get stable by this year. Also, we are having competition from international destinations who are also eyeing the Russian market. But this trend will change this year.”
Goa is now set to get its second airport in Mopa, which is located in North Goa. With the new airport in place, GTDC is optimistic to witness a major growth in the charter business, which in turn will boost tourism.
Cabral added, “The Government has decided to go in full swing to launch the new airport called Mopa. There will be no restrictions from charter flights in Goa. There has always been a demand for charter flights, especially bigger ones, the wide-bodied one. The new airport will be developed in North Goa. We are also connecting the North and South Goa with six lane highways, which will further increase the connectivity. If all goes well the land operations will start by 2020-21. Also, the first half of this year has been very good in terms of footfall. It is a good sign that there has been increase in both domestic and international visitations.”
In the recent years, Goa has been looking to develop world class MICE infrastructure in the state. The state is looking to develop Ponda as a MICE destination with convention facilities. “We are very much interested in developing the MICE segment. Government has land for creating MICE infrastructure, but we are looking at the private players to come and develop. We still have plans to come up with a convention centre at Ponda under PPP mode. MICE tourists still come in a huge numbers to Goa. We want to promote the mid-segment hotels for MICE.”
Over the last couple of years, Goa has witnessed a trend in terms of the domestic market. Earlier, Goa was regarded as a seasonal market with June to October being an off-season. Now, the domestic market has helped Goa to become a year round destination.
Cabral said, “Domestic market is very important for us. We have a good occupancy. In the last seven to eight years, the trend was domestic travellers visited Goa only during the season period. After June till October, hotels used to consider off-season and did not have much business. Now, the hotels are doing well throughout the year. Domestic has become a huge round the year market for us. This market is helping us to develop our tourism. When we have tourists coming throughout the year, we have created new products. During monsoon, travellers cannot enjoy the beaches so we are promoting various activities like heritage, nature, wildlife, hinterland tourism, culture, etc.”