Domestic tourism surges in Goa; focus shifts to recovery in overseas arrivals | Mint

Domestic tourism surges in Goa; focus shifts to recovery in overseas arrivals

Goa tourism and IT minister Rohan Khaunte.
Goa tourism and IT minister Rohan Khaunte.


  • Goa is looking at new international markets and promoting cruise tourism, an untapped sector promising substantial revenue

New Delhi: Goa’s tourism industry is witnessing a robust recovery, driven by a surge in domestic travellers. In an interview, Rohan Khaunte, state tourism and IT minister, said Goa has welcomed 10 million visitors since March, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. The projected number of visitors for 2023 is expected to be 30% higher than the 8.1 million tourist arrivals in 2019.

The state heavily relied on a significant influx of international travellers, primarily by using charters, but is yet to make a full recovery. In 2019, Goa received a million international visitors, mainly from the UK and Russia but the Russia-Ukraine war and India’s issues with UK significantly impacted overseas tourist arrivals till 2023. Consequently, the state has had to shift its focus to explore alternative international markets and explore new models, such as promoting cruise tourism.

“Cruise tourism was never there on the tourist map earlier. Every ship that comes in brings 3,000 individuals most of whom are big spenders. We are expecting 42 ships to come in this year. In the long run, it will give more fully independent travellers or FITs and that will help the state get additional tourism revenue."

Goa has also placed a proposal to the Centre for “digital nomad" visas for foreign tourists arrivals in India for a short period of time. Digital nomads are tech-freelancers who don’t necessarily work from a particular place. The state is hoping the Centre will speed up work on this visa programme soon.

“Nearly 50 countries have realised the potential of digital nomads and in their ability to spend and live in their country for short durations. We must ensure that Goa along with the Centre work on policies like this. Goa can be an ideal model for the country to showcase. It can contribute so much to the local tourism economy for Goa and we are determined to make tech tourism a reality soon. But the Centre is yet to sort out a clear policy on how to give out digital nomad visas," he said.

Goa‘s population is about 1.5 million. Tourism contributes 16.43% to Goa’s economy and about 35% jobs. “With both Dabolim and Manohar International Airport airports in operation, we have to work on improving room capacity."

“Most organised hotels are running at 80%-plus capacity. Goa has about 6,000 hotels with 85,000 rooms at present," said Khaunte.

The state is also looking at ensuring that online tour operators like Makemytrip and others only take listings of hotels and properties that are already registered with the tourism department. “We were getting a lot of complaints that after booking properties on OTA platforms, when people arrived in Goa, they found that these properties didn’t exist. Last year when we first began registering them, the number was just 3000 properties registered. This number has doubled in 1.5 years. This year, the number will go up to 10,000 or more. We need to capture the data of the revenues they earn as well,’ he said.

According to the official Ministry of Tourism statistics for the year 2022, the number of domestic tourist visits to all states and union territories in the country were 1731.01 million, up 155% over 2021, but still lower than 2019 when Indians did 2321.98 million visits.

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