Panaji, Feb 7 (IANS) Amid a buzz over a decline in the tourists’ footfall in the coastal state, Goa Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte on Wednesday told the Assembly that there are no facts in it.
“There is no decline in tourist footfalls from last year compared to the current year except during Covid period,” Khaunte said.
According to Khaunte domestic tourists have immediately increased post-Covid.
“We were continuously dependent on the UK and Russia. This year Israelis were supposed to come, but due to the war with Hamas, it was dropped. We started with Uzbekistan, the first chartered flight came but the second did not,” he said, adding his department is trying to attract foreign tourists.
“We need to go and market our position not only for sun, sand and sea, but we have to talk about wellness, adventure and spiritualism, which has increased. These markets we are promoting,” Khaunte said.
Congress MLA Carlos Alvares Ferreira asked for a summary about what the tourism department has done while doing marketing in foreign countries.
Carlos Alvares Ferreira said that state tourism department delegations visit foreign destinations on junkets and that should be stopped.
However, Khaunte dismissed the allegation saying: “It is no longer a junket business. We are doing serious business there. I would like you to come and evaluate yourself what we are doing there.”
Goa Forward MLA Vijai Sardesai opposing the foreign trips by the delegation, said that there should be a ban on all promotions.
“Stop all promotions, we don’t want consultants. We want a think tank. There are experts in Goa who can advise without charging fees. But they do not want Goan, because they want ‘fifty-fifty’ things. Tourism is the backbone of our economy,” Sardesai said. According to Khaunte in 2019, during the pre-pandemic year, 71,27,287 lakh domestic tourists had arrived in Goa, while foreign were 9,37,113.
“Till November 2023, we have received 72,01,989 domestic tourists and 4,03,403 are foreign tourists. Compared to 2022, where foreign tourists were reported to be 1,69,005, there is a surge of 138.69 per cent in 2023,” Khaunte said.