Tour operators in India are likely to feel the pinch after Russia, in its latest travel advisory, decided to remove India from its list of safe destinations for tourists.
“This is extremely bad news for our tour operators. The flow of Russian tourists was expected to increase following the bombing a Russian plane (resulting in the suspension of Russian flights to Egypt) and the easing of visa restrictions,” said Subhash Goyal, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators.
To cater to the increased traffic during winters, special charter flights are operated by Russian charter companies to bring travellers to India. Around 2.5 lakh Russian tourists visited the country in 2013.
“Goa has always been a favourite with Russian tourist. Such is the demand that last year, Air India resumed its Moscow flight after a gap of around 15 years. Around 50% of tourists visiting Goa in winters are Russians,” said Rajji Rai, former president Travel Agents Association of India and chairman Swift Travels.
“Thousands travel between the two countries every month and beginning November, the traffic shoots. Weather and budget make Goa a favourite for the Russians,” said Rai.
For the travel industry, Rai said, Russians mean good business. “They stay here for an average 3-6 months and are an integral part of the travel industry here,” he added.
Earlier this month, a 23-year-old Russian woman was attacked with acid by the son of the owner of the paying guest facility in which she was staying. She was attacked after she allegedly rejected a marriage proposal by the accused.