Panaji: Tourism minister Manohar ‘Babu’ Azgaonkar said that Goa’s marketing strategy will be changed to boost tourist arrivals from traditional European markets. Tourism stakeholders also feel that it’s high time Goa tourism overhaul its marketing techniques to make the destination more competitive.
The just-concluded charter tourist season ended on a happy note with a rise in charter arrivals. Goa received 988 charters with 614 flights arriving from Russiaand 168 from Ukraine.
Yet, the stakeholders were not completely content. Except for the UK (156 charters) and Finland (12 charters), Goa did not receive charters from other European destinations such as Germany or any other Scandinavian countries even as arrival from Russia picked up in 2016-17.
While Goa’s charter market was Europe-centric since the inception of the charter business in the 80s, the trend reversed about eight-nine years ago. The vacuum created with the decline in arrivals from European destinations and more specifically UK, was filled by increasing arrivals from Russia. While UK has shown signs of growth during the last two seasons, similar improvement is not seen in other markets of Europe.
Asked about this, Azgaonkar said, “Probably because Goa has not been marketed properly. I have received some inputs when I met the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) a few days ago”.
“We have to change how we market Goa,” said Azgaonkar hinting at broad changes in the marketing strategy in future. However, he did not specify what exactly he has in mind.
A tour operator puts the blame on Goa tourism stating it does not take tourism stakeholders into confidence, while planning its promotion and marketing activities. “We hardly matter,” he said, when asked for comment.
Another major tour operator who did not want to be named, said what is hitting Goa the most is its high taxation. “Due to high taxation, Goa loses its edge when compared to other destinations such as Sri Lanka, Maldives and South East Asian countries,” he pointed out.
The question, he raised is whether there are enough direct flights to Goa from various European countries.
A Gomes Pereira, chief operating officer (COO), Trail Blazer Tours (I) Pvt Ltd, says Goa can’t think of the number of foreign travelers growing unless the state gets more direct flights.
Ernest Dias, chief operating officer, Sita, said that more tourists now choose to travel as free independent travelers (FITs), and this holds good for European travelers as well. Dias appears optimistic of this segment growing.
Goa tourism’s website doesn’t have separate data about FITs though it has listed country wise e-visa arrivals.
The e-visa arrivals for the period January-May 2017 as compared to the corresponding period in 2016 is more, but it doesn’t give the complete picture even as inflow of travelers from Germany, France, Georgia, Sweden and UK has shown growth.