Falling Russian currency to hurt Goa tourism

Charter flights from Russia to be hit; arrivals already down

Aneesh Phadnis Mumbai
Goa could see a big dip in arrivals of Russian tourists, as the steep fall in rouble will make charters flights more expensive, said senior executives of travel companies.

Goa is already witnessing a decline in Russian tourists following closure of two local tour operators — Labirint and Neva. The fall in rouble will hit tourism further, the executives said.

Estimates of decline in arrivals vary from 30-50 per cent. Rouble fell to 80 against the dollar on Tuesday, but settled around 72 against the dollar its steepest fall in sixteen years.

Last year Goa received 1141 charter flights and this year Airport Authority of India (AAI) is expecting 1,200 flights. But the actual movement is expected to be much less.

“During the last season, Goa received 21-24 charter flights from Russia a week. This year we are seeing 14-15 flights a week, and the aircraft do not have a full load. There have been many cancellations this year. The impact of fall in rouble on tourism is going to be tremendous,'' said Bharat Atree, managing director of Caper Travels, which handles Russian charters in Goa.

About 70 per cent of all charter flights to Goa come from Russia. This year AAI has received requests from 12 companies from Russia, UK, Ukraine, Finland, Kazakhastan and Dubai to operate charters. The charter season runs from October-May and the number of flights depends on bookings.

“It is a big challenge for tour operators now. There is already a sharp decline in the number of Russian tourists and it will now go down further,” said Homa Mistry, chief executive officer of Trail Blazer Tours India.

Cost of packages for Goa tours in the Russian market has dropped drastically, but still there were not enough takers and tour operators are selling packages cheap to plug losses.

Data from the Goa's tourism department show that the state received 4.50 lakh foreign tourists in 2012, a slight increase over 4.45 lakh foreign visitors in the previous year. Russians top the list with over 30 per cent of all arrivals following by British (26 per cent), Germany (7 per cent).

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First Published: Dec 17 2014 | 11:57 PM IST

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