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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Thomas Cook crisis: Goa tour operators panic

The British travel group declared bankruptcy on Monday after failing to reach a last-ditch rescue deal.

india Updated: Sep 23, 2019 16:53 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Panaji
Goa received 9,34,000 foreign tourists across the calendar year 2018 which made up only 11.65% of the total 800,000 odd tourists that visited the coastal state.
Goa received 9,34,000 foreign tourists across the calendar year 2018 which made up only 11.65% of the total 800,000 odd tourists that visited the coastal state. (HT image)
         

The collapse of Thomas Cook, one of the world’s largest tour operators, has sent stakeholders in Goa reeling and fearing yet another bad year for tourism in the state known for its sun-kissed beaches and great seafood.

Thomas Cook, which used to operate between four to five charter flights a week from the UK to Goa during the winter tourism season that extends from October to March, announced it will cease operations.

The British travel group declared bankruptcy on Monday after failing to reach a last-ditch rescue deal. The 178-year-old operator had been seeking £200 million ($250 million) from private investors to save it from collapse.

“Thomas Cook has been operating for the last 25-30 years to Goa. And losing out on Thomas Cook is a big, big blow to the industry,” Savio Messias, the president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, said.

In 2018, 296,000 tourists visited Goa from Britain, making it second only to Russia, which sent 333,000 tourists, in terms of foreign arrivals to the state. Nearly-one third of these travellers arrived by charter flights in which Thomas Cook was the dominant player.

Goa received 9,34,000 foreign tourists across the calendar year 2018 which made up only 11.65% of the total 800,000 odd tourists that visited the coastal state.

“It is too early to say what the impact is going to be. We have to see what alternative arrangements are in place,” Ernest Dias, a travel operator who deals in bringing in foreign tourists via charter flights, said.

Despite being a small fraction, foreigners are considered high-value tourists because they stay for a longer period. According to the Goa tourism department, a foreign traveller will stay for an average of nine days while a tourist from within India will stay for an average of four days.

According to government figures, Goa witnessed a growth in the tourism sector of just 2.95% in 2017-2018, the slowest in a decade and 20% slower than the previous year 2016-17 during which the growth was 22.98%

This was in sharp contrast to the average year-on-year growth rate of 20% since 2012 including the years 2014 and 2015 when it grew at 30% for consecutive years.

In view of the economic slowdown, Goa’s tourism sector stakeholders were anticipating yet another choppy year ahead of the tourist season which begins in the first week of October and extends up to May.

First Published: Sep 23, 2019 16:51 IST

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