Panaji – Goa, one of the most popular tourist destinations in India, is also becoming the most expensive destination in the country, say tour operators.
Rising inflation, hike in aviation fuel prices and increase in insurance premiums have led to an escalation in the rates of tour packages, offered by charter and scheduled tour operators to up to 100 per cent.
Bush Miranda, a representative of scheduled flight operator Condor said that tickets which cost $700 last year, have now shot up to $1,300.
“The season this year will be expensive, but the number of travellers to Goa hasn’t shrunk much,” Miranda said.
Condor is scheduled to fly 52 flights to Goa this season. Goa will attract a total of 700 chartered and scheduled flights this season, which ranges from October to March. “There is hope that the number may grow. Last year, the count was 758,” he said.
Goa, according to Miranda, has not only been treated as the fifth best destination by tour organisers worldwide, but also the costliest one this year.
Condor’s first flight from Frankfurt to Goa, scheduled for Oct 9, will be carrying over 300 passengers.
Martin Joseph, who represents Goa-based charter operator Freedom Holidays, said adverse advisories published by several countries about others, have resulted in a steep hike in insurance premiums.
“The moment a country makes an adverse remark about another on its travel advisory, insurance companies hike their premiums to tourists travelling there,” Joseph said, adding that European tourists invariably insured themselves before travelling to India.
Although Goa continues to be one of the favourite destinations for European travellers, it now has competition on the European continent itself.
“Countries like Romania and Bulgaria are opening up and have realised their tourism potential. Obviously, a European traveller would save a lot of money in air fare as well as in-flight time if he chooses to travel to these new tourism havens,” Joseph said.
Subhash Hegde of Thomson charters said Goa would see a spurt in the number of tourists from Russia this year also.
“Almost 40 per cent of the charter tourists received by Goa are from the UK,” he said, adding that while the Russian market was unpredictable, the flow of tourist from UK has been stable for the last several years.
While the population of Goa is pegged at 1.3 million, the state attracts more than 1.5 million tourists in its five-month tourism season from October to March. Roughly 12 percent of the tourists are foreigners.