Goa witnessed a modest growth in 2018. The state welcomed 8.01 million tourists (0.93 mn overseas) in 2018 as compared to 7.78 million tourists (0.89 mn overseas) in 2017. The destination is on a mission to increase the inbound traffic and touch one million in 2019.
However, Goa’s travel and tourism industry questions these numbers and urges the government to have a better mechanism in place. Savio Messias, President, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), feels that these numbers may be misleading as currently these figures also include the VFR and NRI segment who are not tourists. “There is no way we can accept these figures reported by the tourism board as there is no proper study conducted. We need to do a systematic study of over a period of at least three months of all routes like railways, roads, airlines and see what the footfall is. We have to separate tourists from the VFR and business travellers. We need Government support to do this study,” Messias said.
Goa has witnessed de-growth in the charter business over the last couple of years. In 2016-17, the destination welcomed 988 charter flights with 232,679 arrivals, which in 2017-2018, was stagnant with 981 flights with 247,365 tourists. In 2018- 2019, the destination has drawn only 813 charters with 218,776 travellers.
“Currently the only accurate figures we have are of the charters. The charters have been declining in the recent years. Government needs to give some incentives to charters. Our Neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka compensate for every unsold seat, some countries subsidise the visa cost, airport tax or offers reduction in landing rates, etc. Charter companies need such incentives to survive. Furthermore, the Thomas Cook UK closure is a big blow for us in terms of the charter business,” Messias added.
Today, the travel and tourism industry in India is majorly driven by the domestic tourism. Messias sees a need for a mix of both domestic and inbound tourists for tourism to sustain in Goa. “Domestic market is doing very well, but we need inbound tourists. We cannot deny the fact that domestic tourists started coming only due to the foreign tourists. We need a mix of both to sustain our tourism. Government has to take some control on the domestic front to further boost arrivals. I feel that domestic tourism is somewhat driving away the international footfall who come to Goa just to relax and unwind,” he further added.
The hospitality industry in the state has also witnessed stagnation in Average Room Rate (ARR) in last couple of years. In Goa, the branded chains and upscale hotels have witnessed growth due to MICE and weddings business. But overall there has been a slowdown.
“The real estate in Goa is a booming sector and a lot of people have invested in villas and big houses. Today, they are renting these villas through aggregators and disruptors, which in a way is threat to the industry. The ARR has gone down in the lower segment hotels; the upper segment has been stable as they are more focused into MICE and weddings,” he informed.
As a new offering in their product portfolio, Goa has started promoting medical tourism to the state. The state has been successful in promoting its wellness tourism over the years. “We have been talking about medical tourism, but it won’t happen for many years. We first need to improve our infrastructure. The kind of hospital, services and facilities must be upgraded. Goa can be a very good destination for wellness tourism. But, for medical tourism, we have strong competition like Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka in our neighbourhood,” he opined.