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Global meltdown continues to hit tourism industry

January 16, 2009 14:43 IST

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Goa's international tourism inflow is likely to dwindle further with global meltdown continuing to impact the industry even in 2009.

Experts feel that the international tourism will be 10 to 15 per cent less compared to last year. The year 2008 saw average 20 per cent less foreign tourists visiting this coastal state famed for its pristine beaches.

"The year 2009 will be very difficult for the tourism industry because of the economic situation prevailing worldover," Platon Loizou, managing director, Jewel in the Crown holidays UK, told PTI.

Loizou's firm is the largest independent tour operators from UK planning holidays to Britons.

"Every happening indicates that UK's economy is in very bad shape. Economy will be bad almost everywhere in the world affecting the number of travellers," he said.

Loizou said that the year 2008 saw partial impact as people had booked packages six to nine months in advance.

"This year, it will be bad because people will not prioritise the holiday on their spending list," he said.

The impact has already started showing up as Monark, one of the largest chartered flight carrier, cancelled its once a week Goa operations from January 9 onwards.

The operations will remain cancelled till April, this year, Loizou said.

Monark had a capacity to carry 370 passengers a week which amounts to cancellation of around 5,000 seats, he said.

"There are lots of Goans who live in England. They also are reluctant to plan their homeland visit as they think its not worth to leave their job and come here on a vacation," Loizou said.

The UK contributes for the highest foreign tourist arrivals contributing for almost 50 per cent of the total chunk.

"The situation will remain volatile even for this year. It will be dependent on whether world economy resurrects or remained poised at same position," Ralf de Souza, president, travel and tourism association of Goa, said.

The TTAG is an umbrella organisation of the tour operators in the state.

"When the other industries recover from the recession then only tourism will be in place. Holiday is not the priority," de Souza added.

The state tourism industry, which has received severe setback last year, are working out modalities to augment its sagging prospects.

"The tour operators will have to check what markets can be pulled in and also what we can do to salvage the industry," the TTGG president said.

The industry also expects to increase its foray in the domestic market encashing on the slashed airfares in the country.

"Although world economy is in crisis, the Indian economy is still surviving its growth rate. We find that the domestic market has huge potential," de Souza stated.

The state tourism ministry officials said that the attempts are on to woo more tourists here.

"The season is bouncing back and we expect to pick up further," Lyndon Monteiro, officer on special duty to tourism ministry, said.

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