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Charters drop, give tourism industry anxious moments

Panjim: At a time when Goa’s tourism industry is keeping its fingers crossed, hoping for a good season amidst fierce competition from other affordable destinations, a significant drop in charter flights in the very first month has led to some anxious discussions on whether foreign arrivals will cross last season’s mark.

The debate is relevant, as November could see a 30 percent fall in charter landings, even as slot allotment for many charter airlines have not yet been finalised.

The season’s first chartered flight brought around 520 passengers and crew from Russia on October 4, marking the start of the tourist season in Goa. But, the schedule for October has confirmed 29 charter flights, all bringing Russian tourists, however, there is no sign of flights from any other countries, not even UK which otherwise brings in a substantial number of tourists to the State. The same month last year had seen 54 flights landing at Dabolim airport, which was an increase from the 49 recorded in October 2016.

The expectations for October, when compared to earlier seasons, indicates a very disappointing start to the 2018-19 tourist season. This has led to one of the biggest stakeholders, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), reviving its long-pending demand before the government of providing incentives to charter operators that will encourage arrivals from various countries.

“TTAG has been demanding for some incentives to the charter operators for many years but it has not happened. Since other countries have implemented it, they are recording arrivals in big numbers,” TTAG president Savio Messias said speaking to Herald.

While slots for the remaining season will be confirmed by next month, it is expected that the declining trend will continue in November with an approximate 30 percent drop. “Some slots are not allotted for the remaining season but we anticipate at least 30 percent drop in charter flights. Nevertheless, we are hoping for a good feedback from the charter airlines in December-January,” said a leading charter operator based in Panjim. [H]

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