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More Russian charters come this season

Panaji: The number of tourists arriving in Goa by chartered flights from Russia witnessed a slight increase in December 2016 as compared to December 2015 amid fears that demonetization may further hit international tourists’ footfall. Though the arrival figures fell short of what they were in December 2014, it came as a respite from the steep decline in Russian charters following the country’s economic crisis two years ago.The highest number of charter arrivals — 1,128 flights carrying 2,61,452 tourists — was recorded in 2013-14, after which the figures saw a marked dip. Yet, tourism stake holders had hinted at improved numbers in the current season.
In December 2016, Goa received 104 charters carrying 29,432 tourists, compared to 99 charters carrying 20,560 tourists for the corresponding month in 2015.Also, 30 charterered flights with 8,788 passengers from United Kingdom landed in the state in December 2016 as compared to 25 flights in December 2015.
“The figures are certainly higher than they were in December 2015,” said Ernest Dias, chief operating officer, Sita, adding that a further jump in numbers is expected in March.Aloo Gomes Pereira, chief operating officer of Trail Blazer Tours (I) Pvt Ltd, a travel firm which also handle charters, said business was quite good in December, but has seen a drop in February. “I don’t know why the numbers declined this month. It could be due to Brexit or anything else,” said Pereira who is optimistic that there will be more arrivals next month.
While charter arrivals from UK and other European destinations dry up by March, Russian charters keep arriving till the end of May. In May 2016, 17 chartered flights had arrived from Russia as compared to just one from UK.Tourism in Goa was seriously hit after the Russian economic meltdown two years ago, and though it is yet to regain its robust form, the current season’s increase in charter arrivals during the peak month of December was a ray of hope, even though the tourists had to bear the brunt of demonization.
Beach shack operators and other stakeholders in the tourism industry had bitterly complaint of their business’ being hit due to the currency ban.A shack operator at Arambol said though the currency issue has now been resolved, they have suffered a lot this season. “First, there was a delay of two months in issuing licences. Then it was demonetization,” he said adding, “I know of some foreign tourists who headed to Sri Lanka because of notebandi.””During the cash crunch, tourists opted to pay via cards but we lost business as we did not have a swipe machine. A month ago, we applied for one but are yet to get it,” he added. [TOI]

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