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Mumbai terror sees mass cancellations in Goa

Anirban Chowdhury in New Delhi | December 02, 2008 09:41 IST

Inbound travel to the balmy beaches of Goa is expected to drop a significant 60 per cent following large-scale cancellations by charter flights after last week's terror attacks in Mumbai.

Goa accounts for over a fifth of inbound travel revenue for domestic travel companies. Travel and Tourism Association of Goa statistics show that the state hosts 250,000 tourists (domestic and foreign) in December and January, more than half overseas visitors. This traffic accounts for around 10 per cent of the number of tourists for the full year.

Ralph D'Souza, president, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, said around 750 charter flights operate from November to April, of which December and January account for the highest number.

"We have already seen a 10 to 15 per cent drop in charter traffic. But I cannot say what the impact will be because of the Mumbai attacks," he said.

Shaun Dubash, vice-president, business development, Travelguru, can, however. "Private chartered flights to Goa have already seen a decline of more 20 per cent, which will have a huge impact on tourist inflow. We are bound to see decline of 25 per cent which would make the total decline in charter traffic around 45 per cent," he said.

Goa accounts for 15 per cent of Travelguru's revenues and Dubash expects it to account for a much smaller chunk this year.

He said the UK has already issued an advisory against travel to India. "There are some Russian charter operators that might stop operating too."

"As far as charter operations are concerned, we can safely say December operations will disappear. We can easily see inbound traffic going down this year 60 to 70 per cent," said Manav Thadani, managing director of hotel consultant HVS.

Hotel occupancies are also expected to take a hit. Occupancies have fallen 40 per cent in a season that was already proving lacklustre on account of the global economic slowdown.

"The attacks will only lead to a further decline but the impact will be seen in the next few days," said Amit Sabharwal, VP, business development, Makemytrip.

International charter operators come from the UK, Belgium, Germany and Russia and account for 70 per cent of Goa's overall hotel business and as much as 80 per cent for individual four- and five-star hotels, which largely depend on international traffic.

As a result, hotels are dropping rates to rock bottom levels to attract domestic tourists. According to travel industry sources, the Intercontinental in Goa which offered rooms for Rs 25,000 (excluding taxes) a night is now offering rates of Rs 12,000.

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