South Asian markets prime targets for Goa Tourism; arrival numbers to soar in 2024: Dept official, ET TravelWorld

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<p>Image used for representation only</p>
Image used for representation only

In a bid to reinvigorate tourism post-pandemic, The Department of Tourism, Goa is strategically targeting both domestic and international markets, aiming to diversify its tourist inflow. Deepak Narvekar, Deputy General Manager for Marketing, Hotels, IT & Public Relations, highlighted a notable rise in foreign tourist arrivals post-pandemic, with a portion hailing from emerging markets.

“Our focus is on targeting South Asian markets, given that Russia was our primary market previously. We are now redirecting our efforts towards countries like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The government of Goa is actively working to divert traffic from Uzbekistan into Goa, besides exploring other emerging destinations. Under the guidance of the Chief Minister of Goa and Tourism Minister, Rohan Khaunte, the Goa Tourism Board has established committees to strategise on targeting emerging markets and devising marketing strategies,” added Narvekar.

Notably, Goa celebrated the arrival of its first charter flight from Uzbekistan, Centrum Air Q6 5545, at Mopa Airport on December 7, 2023, marking the beginning of weekly charter flights linking Tashkent in Uzbekistan, to Goa until March 21, 2024. As per Rohan A. Khaunte, the Minister for Tourism, Information Technology, Electronics and Communications, Printing and Stationary, Government of Goa, this marked the start of a promising collaboration of the state with Uzbekistan.

Tapping into other markets, the tourism department also plans roadshows in Lisbon, Austria, and Spain, alongside participating in global travel fairs such as WTM London, ATM Dubai, and ITB Berlin, Narvekar stated, underlining the efforts to tap into untapped avenues.

Anticipating a surge because of improved connectivity, he also said that with the recent addition of Mopa airport alongside the existing Dabolim, Goa will see a significant increase in tourist inflow in the year ahead. “We do receive FITs in large numbers. The government is collating data from airports and hotels to track foreign tourist numbers, hoping optimism for an increase this year,” he said.

Narvekar also revealed the recent collaborations with airlines, such as IndiGo’s new route from Goa to Dehradun to promote spiritual tourism has bore fruits. Additionally, initiatives like the recent regenerative tourism campaign aim to draw tourists beyond the beaches. “The focus has shifted from the beaches to the historic temples, with the launch of the Ekadasha Teertha campaign, which highlights the development of 11 temples dating back to over 500 years old. This move aims to move tourists from the beaches to the cultural heritage of Goa’s interiors,” he added.

MakeMyTrip & Goa Tourism signs MoU to promote state beyond beaches

As the pioneer of Regenerative Tourism in India, Goa sets the stage for this innovative venture. The MoU delineates a series of initiatives designed to unveil Goa’s hidden treasures, celebrate its rich heritage, and promote sustainable tourism practices. Rohan Khaunte, Minister of Tourism, IT, E&C, and Printing and Stationery, Government of Goa, articulated the vision behind this collaboration, underscoring the government’s dedication to rejuvenating the tourism sector.

Additionally, the state has implemented a homestay policy and is actively working to capitalise on its wealth of ancestral properties and heritage houses, providing tourists with an authentic experience. Recently, the Government of Goa has also teamed up with MakeMyTrip (MMT) to transform the state into a year-round destination beyond its beaches. This partnership focuses on boosting homestay experiences in Goa’s interiors, promoting unique travel itineraries, and highlighting local festivals. Emphasising sustainability, the collaboration also aims to repurpose 500,000 single-use plastic bottles for a public art installation, advocating for eco-friendly tourism practices and equitable economic benefits distribution across the state.

While acknowledging challenges like network connectivity in homestays operating in the remote areas, Narvekar assured proactive measures. “Plans are underway to extend mobile internet coverage to Goa’s interiors, including Tambdi Surla and Dudhsagar areas. While some locals initially opposed tower installations, the government is actively engaging with them to resolve concerns and enhance connectivity shortly. Additionally, the Chief Minister’s recent budget announcement includes the establishment of free Wi-Fi centers at Goa’s main attraction spots, ensuring widespread coverage across the region,” he told ETTravelWorld.

Also addressing the concerns about beach safety and tourist grievances, Narverkar said that the government-introduced Beach Vigil app is now live, which also empowers travellers to report incidents promptly. “Immediate action will be taken by the Department of Tourism upon receiving reports through the app,” Narvekar affirmed. In response to concerns about tourist harassment and service quality, the Goa government introduced ‘Beach Vigil App‘ in 2022 to monitor beach activities. Initially accessible only to officials, the app has now been made available to the public following a successful trial period.

  • Published On Feb 28, 2024 at 10:18 AM IST

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