Panaji, June 23 (IANS) Russia’s honorary consul in Goa Victor Albuquerque on Tuesday said a significant chunk of Russians who travel to Goa every year is from the country’s lower middle class or the poor.
Only those who check into the more pricey hotels in South Goa are the “real Russian tourists”, he added.
Albuquerque was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Swachch Bharat event held in Panaji.
The consul also said that the country’s tourists who travel to Anjuna and Vagator beach villages in north Goa, about 30 km from Panaji and known for shoe-string tourism — especially among foreign tourists — are “poor people who come for all types of reasons”.
Goa’s tourism season has been marred by a downturn as far as foreign tourists are concerned, thanks to the economic crisis in Europe and escalating tension between Ukraine and Russia — the latter ranks as the number one country as far as foreign tourist arrivals from Europe are concerned.
Goa’s tryst with Russian tourists started in 2003, when the first charter flight — special flights chartered by tour companies for short-term tourists — flew in from Russia to the Western Indian state which is also known as one of the best beach tourism destinations in the country.
Since then, Russians from popular clusters like Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Ekaterinburg upstaged Britons to emerge as the single largest contingent of foreign tourists to Goa.
The Russian arrivals, however, dwindled during this season with only 537 charters from Russia landing in the state in 2014-15 as compared to 985 in 2013-14.
To another question, Albuquerque also denied that Russian tourists were responsible for strewing garbage in Goa’s coastal areas. “They may be doing other things, but as far as Swachch Bharat is concerned, they are not contributing towards garbage or dirtying the place,” he said.