Hotels in Goa may be forced to slash rates and look for business within the country following the collapse of Thomas Cook UK.
Thomas Cook UK, which shut down operations on Monday, leaving hundreds of tourists stranded in Europe, was among the largest overseas tour operators selling sun and surf holidays in Goa during winter.
The company operated chartered flights from London Gatwick and Manchester airports to Goa between November and March.
“Thomas Cook UK’s closure is a big hit for tourism in Goa,” said Aloo Gomes Pereira, chief operating officer (charters), Trail Blazer Tours India. Russia and the UK are the key source markets for Goa and tourists from the two countries travel to the state on regular scheduled flights and on seasonal charters.
“Thomas Cook operated chartered flights from London Gatwick and Manchester to Goa between November and April and last year flew in over 35,000 British tourists,” he said. About half of them were on packaged tours.
“We hoped to attract more tourists with reduction in e-visa fees and cut in goods and services tax rates. The closure of Thomas Cook UK is a setback for us. We are meeting the state tourism department on Tuesday,” said Savio Messias, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa. Pereira said the government should now allow foreign airlines to operate higher-capacity aircraft to Goa.
The development has worried local hoteliers because British tourists are a good market for them. Packaged tours are booked months in advance. “Hotels in the state will be affected. I think there will be a price correction,” said Zafar Karmali, director of sales and marketing at Hyatt’s Alila Diwa resort in Goa.
Local hotels have been seeing modest growth this year and will look to increase their domestic business and tap the meetings and conferences segment. An increase in tourists from Russia and Israel (which will have direct flights to Goa from October) could step into the breach British tourists have created.
Thomas Cook India has said it will be unaffected. So has The Hotel Leela Goa.
“The business The Leela Goa derives from Thomas Cook UK is expected to be routed through other charter companies operating in that region. Hence we do not forecast any loss of business owing to this development,” said General Manager Shridhar Nair. He added that the hotel had anticipated the development and taken steps to cushion the blow.
Nandivardhan Jain, chief executive officer of advisory firm Noesis Capital, said the impact on hotels would be confined largely to markets like Goa and Kerala, and short.