Recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Goa for BRICS summit may put the coastal state back on list of favourite destinations of Russian tourists whose falling numbers have worried local tourism industry.
The tourism stake-holders feel that Goa would regain favour among Russians in the wake of Putin's visit.
"Definitely, Goa would be on top of the mind of Russians as their President Putin was here and the event was widely covered internationally," Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) president Savio Messias told PTI today.
The 8the BRICS summit was held between October 15-16, which was attended by the heads of the five-nation grouping, including Putin.
"We can expect more Russian tourists this time, but economic situation in Russia should improve," Messias said.
He said post BRICS, Goa would be in the focus of various countries besides Russia, which would open up opportunities of good footfall for the tourist season that has just begun.
The first chartered flight from Russia had arrived in Goa on October 2.
Around 15 million Russians travel overseas for their holidays every year. Of them, nearly 6 million travel to Egypt and Turkey while around 1 million travel to South East Asia and India.
"According to figures from the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, the total number of Russians who visited India in the 2013-14 season stood at 1,12,695," said Vikram Varma, Legal Advisor to Russian Consulate in Mumbai.
He said this number dropped to 51,076 in the 2014-15 season.
"90 per cent of Russian tourists who arrive in India, come to Goa. With the visit of the Russian president in Goa for BRICS summit, every newspaper and television station in Russia has provided information and coverage on various aspects of Goa to the millions of Russians enjoying international tourism," Varma said.
"I am confident that this publicity of Goa will translate
into a larger bloc of Russians visiting Goa in oncoming season," Varma added.
Quoting Russian statistics, Varma said that during 2013-14 Vietnam had 1,79,616 Russians whose number slumped to 1,70,140 during 2014-15 even as Thailand received 6,48,691 Russians in 2013-14 and 3,13,573 Russians in 2014-15.
"It is evident that despite the political instability in Thailand, they received six times more Russian tourists than Goa/India. (However), though the cultural heritage and beach lines are far larger in India, we are yet to proportionally capitalise on it," he said.
According to Varma, "there are clear impediments due to language for Russians travelling to India."
He listed Goan taxi drivers and local police as among issues concerning Russians, which need to be adequately addressed.
"Goa has wonderful minds capable of resolving such issues," he added.