Friday 20 September 2019

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Economy | Tourism

Naval restrictions relaxed to help charter tourism

 

Goa does not benefit much from charter tourism, claim the authorities but are still trying hard to get more flights to the favourite tourist destination of Europeans, courtesy defence ministry.

The civilian traffic at Dabolim air port here actually operates from a part of the naval air port right from the beginning. After restricting the traffic for only three days - Friday, Saturday and Sunday - all these years, the navy has now allowed one-hour night landing on Tuesday and Wednesday. It can get a further boost, provided the defence ministry relaxes its rigid rules to help the tourism grow here by allowing landings of charter flights every week, states chief minister Dr Wilfred de Souza. He has now approached defence minister George Fernandes to get the relaxation.

"Our main headache is not getting the tourists but landing them at the airport", states Martins Joseph of the Freedom Group of Companies. Why are the naval authorities simply restricting the traffic when nobody benefits from it, he asks.

U D Kamat, the tourism director, is confident that the chief minister's request would be met with since the defence minister fully agrees with the state government's contention. Realising importance of tourism, Fernandes believed to have assured to resolve the long-pending issue.

The recent approval could now bring 41 more flights from Denmark, twice a week, from 9 December onwards. This is added to the 14 slots booked on three days, as per the old schedule, which can take the total number of flights to 393.

After a major setback for charter tourism in 96, when Goa received 55 less charter flights, it has been showing a steep rise since last year. The charter season, which begins in October and ends in May, reported almost 340 flights compared to hardly 282 the previous year.

Almost 385 flights could land here from November onwards, till April, while October and May would be a slack season with only five and three charters respectively. Around 25 each may be arriving from Finland, Switzerland, Germany and Holland while 13 could come from Sweden. UK is still the highest having granted slots for 236 flights, compared to only 174 received last year.

The UK scene is otherwise on decline, showing 12 per cent less flights in last four years. Following the Britishers, the Dutch and Danish now seem to be getting attracted towards Goa. Two flights from UK have already arrived while one from Holland two more from UK would arrive by month end.

Though the number from Germany, Italy, Finland and Austria is declining, Holland seems to be the shot in the arm as they have almost doubled the number of their flights coming here every week. More visitors have also started coming from Switzerland and the USA, who are the ones actually spend more, states Kamat.

But the state directly does not benefit from it, states tourism minister Dr Carmo Pegado, who is now planning to shift the focus from beach tourism to the interior, promoting green and adventure tourism. The government considers charters as cheap tourism.

The charter tourists are charged little over 100 pounds for conveyance and a fortnight stay in Goa, which is actually charged as one-way flight ticket from here to London. It has been made possible with rent-back facilities in the flats of hired buildings instead of a hotel stay.






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