‘Increase in foreign tourists? Really?’

The government always play with number be it in tourism sector or any other sector. This is how the government gets all its awards…faking numbers.!


Panaji: The tourist trade complained of a fall in fortunes consequent to a decline in charters since 2014-15, but it didn’t stop Goa tourism from posting an increase in foreign tourists.

While tourism stakeholders vouch for the increase in Indian tourists, they are intrigued by the 5.4 % increase in foreign tourist arrivals as claimed by the Goa tourism department this March.

Till mid-April 2016, 749 charters landed in Goa, bringing in 1,54,061 tourists. Normally, charter tourists form a greater chunk of foreign tourist arrivals with Goa yet to see a significant rise in the foreign independent traveller (FIT) segment. Not surprisingly, the claims of Goa tourism raises suspicion.

Goa airport director B C H Negi, when asked whether they have any mechanism to count the exact number of foreign tourists arriving at Dabolim airport, replied in the negative.

Except charters, all international travellers are counted in a common pool, and all passengers arriving on international flights are taken as international travellers.

Airport figures are then collated by Goa tourism. This means, chances of a Goan returning home after a few days abroad being counted as a foreign tourist by Goa tourism is high. Other sources of data of the tourism department are hotels, railways, and bus stands. There’s no way to know if the tourism department avoids overlapping of data collected, considering the fact, that majority of tourists visiting Goa, will stay in a hotel or a guesthouse.

“I don’t know if a tourist counted at the airport on arrival, is not counted for the second time during his stay at a hotel,” said a travel agent. Chief operating officer (COO), Trail Blazer India (TBI), Aloo Gomes Pereira, said he was surprised to hear that a number of foreign tourists have gone up.

“For me, business was down by 30%,” he said. A prominent tour operator said there is a scope to doubt accuracy of figures which Goa tourism releases from time to time.

Many hotels, he said, don’t provide data to the tourism department. President, travel and tourism association of Goa (TTAG), Savio Messias, said he finds it hard to believe that the number of foreign tourists have grown over the last two seasons, when charter numbers dropped.

Justifying the increase in foreign tourist footfalls, the tourism department also point at a rise in e-visas issued at Dabolim airport. As posted on tourism department’s website, 53,247 e-visas were issued from January to April.

Tourism stakeholders take the claims of the tourism department of an increase in tourist footfalls with a pinch of salt, nonetheless.