Falling Russian currency will hurt Goa tourism
Goa could see a sharp drop in Russian tourist arrivals, as the sharp drop in the ruble will make charter flights more expensive, senior executives at travel agencies said.
Goa is already seeing a drop in Russian tourists after the closure of two local tour operators – Labirint and Neva. The fall of the ruble will further affect tourism, the executives said.
Estimates of the drop in arrivals range from 30 to 50 percent. The ruble fell to 80 against the dollar on Tuesday, but stood at around 72 against the dollar, its biggest drop in sixteen years.
Last year Goa received 1,141 charter flights and this year the Airports Authority of India (AAI) expects 1,200 flights. But the actual movement should be much less.
“During the last season, Goa received 21 to 24 charter flights from Russia per week. This year we are seeing 14 to 15 flights per week and the planes are not fully loaded. There have been many cancellations this year. The impact of the ruble’s fall on tourism is going to be huge, ” said Bharat Atree, managing director of Caper Travels, which manages Russian charters in Goa.
About 70 percent of all charter flights to Goa originate from Russia. This year, AAI received requests from 12 companies in Russia, UK, Ukraine, Finland, Kazakhastan and Dubai to operate charters. The charter season runs from October to May and the number of flights depends on bookings.
“It’s a big challenge for tour operators now. There is already a sharp drop in the number of Russian tourists and it will now drop further, ”said Homa Mistry, Managing Director of Trail Blazer Tours India.
The cost of tour packages for Goa tours in the Russian market has dropped significantly, but there were still not enough takers and tour operators are selling cheap packages to make up for the losses.
Data from the Goa Tourism Department shows that the state received 4.50 lakh from foreign tourists in 2012, a slight increase from 4.45 lakh from foreign visitors the year before. Russians top the list with over 30 percent of all arrivals, followed by the British (26 percent), Germany (7 percent).