Over 4L foreign visits in Goa last year; tourism dept to continue international market promotions, ET TravelWorld


<p>Representative Image- GK Reddy  </p>
Representative Image- GK Reddy

In the past five years, the state of Goa has witnessed a rollercoaster ride in Foreign Tourist Visits (FTVs). The recent data between January to November 2023 provided by the State Tourism Department, indicates a promising recovery with FTVs reaching 4.03 lakh, with a growth of 130.29 per cent.

As per the Union Minister of Tourism, GK Reddy, the FTVs stood at 9.37 lakh in 2019, marking a marginal increase of 0.32 per cent from the preceding year. However, the onset of the global pandemic in 2020 plunged tourist arrivals to a mere 3.03 lakh, representing a decline of 67.66 per cent. The year 2021 witnessed a further downturn, with FTVs plummeting to a mere 0.22 lakh, marking a drastic decrease of 92.74 per cent compared to the previous year.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, 2022 brought a resurgence in foreign tourist footfall, which surged to 1.75 lakh, showcasing a growth rate of 695.45 per cent. However, the numbers still were below the pre pandemic levels.

In a recent conversation with ETTravelWorld, Goa’s Tourism & IT Minister, Rohan Khaunte shared that the international tourist arrivals to the state in 2023 dwindled due to the issues like Israel-Hamas conflict and Russia war but the tourism department has been consistently addressing the same by tapping into emerging and newer markets like US, Japan, South Korea, South Asia and Middle East. Besides, they are also in regular discussions to resolve the issues related to international digital nomad visas, which, if simplified, would allow to boost Goa’s prospects as a tech tourism destination. Domestically, the state already host a significant number of digital nomads, approximately about 12,000, predominantly working in creative spheres, as per Khaunte.

On the other hand, Goa has also consistently shown growth in tourist footfall year after year, especially in terms of domestic tourism.

“Even before the pandemic, we had already exceeded domestic tourism figures. This underscores the resilience and appeal of Goa as a destination, both domestically and internationally,” he shared. As per data from the Ministry of Tourism, in the last calendar year, Goa welcomed 70.1 lakh domestic tourists.

Goa’s Tourism Department has launched several schemes aimed at revitalising the tourism sector in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as also revealed by Union Minister for Tourism, G.K Reddy, in a Lok Sabha session.

One of the key initiatives is the Tourist Trade Support (Working Capital Interest Subvention) Scheme 2021, designed to assist MSMEs in the tourism industry. This scheme offers subsidies on working capital loans for a six-month period, with a provision for reimbursing interest up to 5 per cent on loans of up to INR 25 Lakhs, benefiting a maximum of 800 eligible entities. B, C, D category hotels/accommodations and Travel & Tour Operators are eligible for this scheme.

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The Ministry of Tourism in India has also launched the National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD) Scheme, focusing on integrated development of pilgrimage destinations. With 46 projects sanctioned under PRASHAD as on January 31, 2024, totaling INR 1631.93 crore, the scheme aims to further enhance pilgrimage and spiritual tourism infrastructure.

Furthermore, the International Charter Support (Waiver of Landing Fees) Scheme 2021 aims to attract more international charters to Goa by reducing landing charges. Under this scheme, shared Reddy, the reimbursements of up to INR 1 lakh per international charter flight were provided on landing charges, excluding GST, at Dabolim Airport, Goa, during the period from October 2021 to March 2022.

To augment tourist traffic, the state’s Tourism Department is also undertaking various promotional activities, including participation in international and domestic travel exhibitions, roadshows, distribution of brochures in foreign languages, and advertising in national and international media channels.

Going forward, Goa Tourism plans to intensify its promotion efforts in international markets by participating in prominent travel marts and exhibitions such as WTM, ITB, BTL, ATM, MITT, and organising international roadshows to attract more foreign tourists to the state, stated Reddy during a recent Lok Sabha session.

  • Published On Feb 6, 2024 at 02:00 PM IST

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