Gavin Dias, the deputy general manager for hotels and marketing at the Goa Tourism Development Corporation, talks about Goa’s tourism industry.
Have hotels in Goa struggled as a result of the decline in Russian tourist numbers?
The Indian domestic market is very strong, and luckily this year we have a lot of national holidays clubbed with weekends, so in terms of domestic tourists we’ve got a large number coming in who have managed to fill the empty rooms that otherwise would have gone unsold.
Has India’s introduction of visas on arrival in November had an effect?
We now have e-visa facilities for about 40 nationalities. We have already had a huge surge in tourist arrivals who are availing themselves of this facility. I’m sure by next season, Goa especially will be a huge beneficiary of the visa on arrival. Tourists always find India and Goa exotic, so I’m sure now that they can do it at the click of a button, they will definitely be attracted. We are trying to reduce the paperwork, the hassles involved and people getting traumatised by filling forms upon forms.
Is Goa attracting cruise ships?
We have got the Mormugao Port Trust. One of the main areas of business they were involved in was the export of [iron] ore. Since it has been stopped or reduced drastically over the past years, alternatively they are beginning to invite cruise ships to dock at the port. Last year we received about 25 cruise ships.
Is the GCC region an important market for Goa?
There are a lot of non-resident Indians, so they like to return to India a few times a year. In that trip we would also like to lure them to Goa, which is a relaxed environment. The topography and demography do not offer much because [the GCC] also has some lovely beaches and similar climate in terms of heat, so I believe their preference is for a colder climate. Therefore, in terms of getting the locals, the Emiratis, it becomes difficult. What is happening is they prefer to come in for their Ayurvedic [medical] treatment, and that is a major attraction.
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