The states charter tourism season got off to a start early Thursday morning as 336 tourists from Russia disembarked at Dabolim airport. According Sita Travels vice president Ernest Dias, the two flights brought not just tourists but travel agents scouting business opportunities in Goa.
“The first flight arrived from Moscow in the early hours of Thursday, followed by another flight later in the day from Ekaterinburg. Both flights brought in 336 tourists,” Dias said. “Around 40-odd travel agents have also arrived on the flights. They will scout hotels and places of tourist interest,” Dias added. State tourism department officials were also present at the airport to greet the season’s first charter tourists.
The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has estimated a 10% growth in charter flights this season. The state received 626 charter flights bringing in ` 1.37 lakh tourists during the previous tourism season. According to TTAG spokesperson Ralph de Sousa, 718 charter flights have already confirmed a landing at Dabolim airport over the next six months. TTAG estimates that this number could touch 740 flights, as the process for holiday bookings is still on. According to statistics provided by TTAG there is an increase in flights from most countries. Some 232 flights will arrive from the UK as against 202 last season. Around 266 flights have been confirmed from Russia, as against 259 last season. “This will increase by another 25 flights as we are awaiting confirmation,” de Sousa said.
Similarly 22 flights will arrive from Switzerland as against 20 landings last season. Germany has confirmed 35 flights as against 22 flights last year. “This may change if the proposal for dual landing is aborted,” the TTAG spokesperson added. Scandinavian countries, comprising Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland , have confirmed 78 flights as against 89 last year, while the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries have 41 confirmed flights as against 35 last season. Poland, Iran and Estonia have confirmed a total of 25 flights, which is the same as last season.