The number of foreign tourists flying into Goa fell by nearly 13 per cent this holiday season, say the police. Russians have now become the second largest group of foreign tourists flying into the coastal state, after the British.
"Ealier, we would have chartered tourists coming to India from Moscow alone, but this year we have Russians coming from places like Yekaterinburg and St Petersburg," Superintendent of Police (Airport Security) Tony Fernandes told reporters on Friday evening.
Fernandes said the central government had relaxed visa norms to attract tourists from these regions.
"They were allowed entry into India on Temporary Landing Permits (TLP) for 14 days. We did not insist on a visa, since the Indian embassy is located in Moscow and it would have been difficult for these tourists to approach it for a visa," he said.
Out of the 82,515 foreign tourists who reached Goa by air between September and December, a sizeable 17,632 hailed from Russia, making it the second largest contingent of tourists after the British, who were 27,542 in number.
Figures released by the police show nearly a 13 per cent drop this season in the number of tourists landing in Goa by chartered and scheduled flights.
"While in the year 2007, 82,515 foreigners visited Goa by chartered and scheduled flights, during the peak tourism period between September and December, this year the number dropped to 71,918, nearly 13 percent," Fernandes said.
There were also tourists from countries like Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Sweden coming on chartered and scheduled flights.
However, battling the twin blows of global recession and the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, Goa saw a lacklustre tourist season in 2008.