The Indian backpacker’s haven of Goa is seeing a huge rise in the number of tourists from Eastern Europe, with record numbers of arrivals from countries like Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan so far in 2011.
Goa’s Department of Tourism released official statistics today showing that Goa has seen a total of 781 charter flights land since the tourist season began in October of last year, carrying 150,000 travelers from 11 destinations across the world, including the UK, Germany, Russia, Poland, Kazakhstan, Norway, Finland, Denmark, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Iran.
While growth is nothing new for Goa, which has long been established as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, the increasing influx of arrivals from Eastern Europe is new development.
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa’s spokesperson Ralph de Souza explained that they had seen a marked increase in the number of arrivals from countries like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, with 81,000 tourists from these countries arriving on 392 flights so far this season, compared with 51,000 UK tourists on 216 flights.
“However” says de Souza, “there are still a lot more UK tourists coming than from Eastern Europe. The numbers are deceptive as many British arrive on flights via Mumbai, which has better connections and more frequent flights”. Travelers from the east meanwhile, prefer to fly into the state directly.
The success is largely down to new marketing efforts by Goa tourist operators, according to Sita Tours vice president Ernest Dias. He said that over the last 12 months, Goa has conducted a targeted marketing campaign, actively pitching Goa to potential tourists in European countries, particularly those in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and former CIS countries. They have also been targeting East Asian countries such as Japan.
“The growing number of eastern European tourists arriving in Goa can be put down to the sustained marketing drive from the State Tourism Department and the industry in general,” he said.
However, it’s not all good news, as the number of visitors from Western Europe has actually declined slightly, despite an overall increase in arrivals across the board.
“While the increase in Eastern European visitors is great news, the decline of Western visitors is a disappointment. Despite the fact that Goa is the most popular Indian destination with regards to repeat visitors, the poor economy and strict visa regulations from the Indian government have caused problems. These are concerns that we hope can be addressed” explained de Souza.