Goa tourist landscape expands, chartered flights from Uzbekistan boost arrivals | Travel

The number of foreign tourist arrivals in Goa is picking up after a major drop due to Covid, but is yet to touch the pre-pandemic levels, according to official figures.

Goa tourist landscape expands, chartered flights from Uzbekistan boost international arrivals (File Photo by REUTERS)

For the first seven months of this calendar year, 2.81 lakh foreign tourists arrived in the coastal state, which is more compared to the figures for 2021 and 2022, when the sector was hit by the coronavirus outbreak and its aftermath.

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According to numbers provided in the Lok Sabha by the Union tourism ministry, in response to a question by Goa MP Francisco Sardinha, the year 2021 saw 22,000 foreign travellers arriving in the state and the number rose to 1.75 lakh in 2022.

A senior official from the state tourism department said that this year’s footfall – 2.81 lakh foreign visitors – is much less compared to the pre-pandemic times. “But this is not the case only with Goa. Overall, there has been a drop in international travels,” he said.

The figures provided by the Union tourism ministry to Sardinha also said that 9.34 lakh foreign tourists arrived in Goa in 2018, which increased to 9.37 lakh in 2019 but then nosedived due to Covid-19.

Amid a drop in the foreign tourist arrivals compared to the pre-pandemic times in Goa, the tourism industry is banking on the new sectors to make up for the losses in the number of international arrivals, said Nilesh Shah, President of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG).

Shah told PTI that the conflicts in Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Palestine are the main reason for the lower number of foreign tourists visiting Goa.

He said that there are also other reasons, including the opening of e-visa facilities by other competitive markets. “It will take time for Goa to reach the pre-pandemic figures of international travellers,” Shah said.

Shah said that there are a lot of tourists who now plan their holidays in destinations like Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Another state tourism department official said that chartered flights from new destinations like Uzbekistan have started arriving in the state. “Last week, a weekly flight from Uzbekistan to Manohar International Airport in Goa started,” he said. The flight Centrum Air Q6 5545 is operated by Elaine Avia in Uzbekistan, he said.

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