Industry expects more Russians in tourist season

While charter tourist arrivals for the just concluded tourist season touched an all-time low since 2009-2010, the next tourist season is expected to be a little better with an anticipated rise in Russian charter tourists .

The decline in Russian charters meant bad news for the local tourism industry during the last couple of years and a resurgence is likely to boost the number of arrivals.

Till April 18, this year, 749 charters landed in the state bringing in a total of 1,54,061 tourists, including 1,02,182 Russians , 34,500 Britons, 9,832 Ukrainians, 3,544 Kazakhs, 2,145 Finns and 1,869 Iranians.

Sita (India) handles a large chunk of Russian charter tourists. It’s COO Ernest Dias said the number of Russian charters is likely to be better in the coming tourist season. Goa is likely to gain with Egypt’s Russian market taking a hit. Also, there’s likely to be rise in tourists from Britain.

Moscow banned flights to Egypt after a passenger airliner was blown up by terrorists over the Sinai on route from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg last year. Around 224 Russian tourists and crew died in what security agencies concluded was a terrorist attack. As a result, direct flights to Egypt were suspended. The Russian government also requested tour operators to stop selling holiday packages to that country.

Prior to the ban, Egypt and Turkey were among the most popular international destinations among Russians.

Since 2010-2011, Goa tourism saw a consistent increase in the number of Russian tourist arrivals while its traditional European market shrunk.

But, the arrival of Russian tourists started dropping as economic trouble began in Russia two years ago.

Some tour operators are expecting their numbers from European destinations to go up as well, but are a little skeptical of unforeseen hikes in hotel tariff at the eleventh hour as it happened last season due to defence expo that happened at the end of March.

A tour operator said hotels refused to honour bookings made by them in advance to cash-in on arrivals for defence expo. The hotels made a killing, but tour operators had to suffer. There were cancellations as hotel tariffs were hiked.

This kind of development, a tour operator said put them in a tight spot even as they are struggling to up their international booking.