Panaji, Sep 10 (IANS) With uncertainty looming large vis-a-vis Russian arrivals in the forthcoming tourism season due to an economic crisis in the country, Goa may see a ray of hope from neighbouring Latvia.
According to the Goa-based Russian Information Centre, Latvian charter flights will debut in Goa’s tourism market this December, with six flights from the Baltic state already booked three months in advance.
“The charter flights from Latvia’s capital Riga mark the opening of a new potential market. The charters from Riga to Goa will ferry tourists from Latvia, as well as Lithuania and Estonia,” Centre spokesperson Ekaterina Belyakova told IANS.
The Centre is endorsed by the Russian consulate in Mumbai and provides assistance to Russian travellers to the tourist state.
Russians top the list of foreign arrivals on Goa’s beaches followed by tourists from Britain, but tourism and travel industry stakeholders have already predicted a dip in their numbers this season (October to March) due to a slowdown in the Russian economy and the ongoing conflict between Russia and the Ukraine.
“The reason why the fresh charter service from Latvia is significant is because it could mean a shot in the arm for the tourism business, which could face a slight decline in foreign arrivals due to the financial crisis in Russia,” Belyakova said.
Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar has on numerous occasions stated that in the light of the crisis in the Russian tourism market, his ministry was in the process of trying to open new avenues like Spain, China, Poland and Holland. The charter flights from Riga to Goa would only add to the endeavour.
The first charter flight from Latvia will land in Goa on December 10, 2015, and there are likely to be six charter flights emanating from Riga this season, with 180 passengers on each inbound flight.
“Approximately, 1,000 passenges are expected to visit Goa this season from the three (Nordic) countries,” Belyakova said, adding that Latvian tour operators were keen on marketing Goa as a “long-term tourism destination”.
Goa’s conventional tourist season starts in October and winds up in March, when the mild winter sun works as a good break for travellers from Russia, Britain, Germany and other European countries from the harsh winter.
Three million tourists visit Goa annually, nearly half a million of them foreigners.