YEAR ENDER 2023: Goa tourism lives in hope for a better 2024

As 2023 ends, tourism insiders are unhappy with how the industry has progressed
Tourism in 2023 has left many of the stakeholders unhappy.
Tourism in 2023 has left many of the stakeholders unhappy.

In less than 30 hours, we will be ringing in a brand new year, with new hopes and dreams. And this was the same hope that the tourism stakeholders were latching onto in 2022 hoping Goa's shores would be patronised by more tourists.

This year, January to July witnessed a slight hike in foreign tourists of around 2.8 lakh compared to 2022 when 1.7 lakh of them visited the state for its sun, sea and sand.

According to the Department of Tourism, this year (upto May), Goa hosted a total of 38,32,306 tourists.
According to the Department of Tourism, this year (upto May), Goa hosted a total of 38,32,306 tourists.

According to figures provided by the Department of Tourism, this year (upto May), Goa hosted a total of 38,32,306 tourists -- 36,15,919 were domestic and 2,16,387 foreigners. Comparatively, in 2022, the figure stood at 71,87,950, out of which, 70,18,945 were domestic and a mere 1,69,005 were foreigners.

IS MOPA TO BE BLAMED?
After the Mopa airport started functioning this year, the South Goa shack owners have been complaining that the tourists footfalls have reduced.
A shack owner from South Goa, who chose to remain anonymous, said, “I have been in the industry for almost 10 years now, and I have seen it gradually falling apart. Now with the Mopa airport, many of the tourists prefer staying in the north. The taxis are charging nothing less than Rs 3,500 to ferry them to South Goa.”

South Goa shack owners lament tourists who land at Mopa prefer staying in the north.
South Goa shack owners lament tourists who land at Mopa prefer staying in the north.

CHARTER FLIGHTS

President of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, Nilesh Shah, said, “Overall 2023 has been a good year for the tourist season. Dabolim continues with its regular flights, but there is more traffic at Mopa. After constant travel to Goa, fatigue sets in and people have been looking for other options to travel, so they prefer places like Bali and Malaysia among others.”
He added, “During the Christmas season, prices are always shooting up. However, this month has been disappointing compared to the other months of the year. Before we used to get six charter flights a day, now, we get six charter flights a week.”

The charter flight arrivals have reduced, says TTAG chief Nilesh Shah.
The charter flight arrivals have reduced, says TTAG chief Nilesh Shah.

BEAUTIFUL BARDEZ

Indian tourists prefer to visit North Goa for the beaches, food joints, beach activities and of course the partying destinations and the figures speak for themselves. In 2022, Bardez taluka which has the beautiful Baga and Calangute beaches, had around 24,56,631 domestic tourists and this year, till May, the numbers shot up to 12,65,572.

North Goa beaches are a major draw for domestic tourists.
North Goa beaches are a major draw for domestic tourists.

SHACK ALLLOTMENT DELAYED
December being the peak season for most shack owners, the footfalls compared to 2022 are dwindling. Beaches like Colva and Benaulim would experience a surge with domestic tourists while the extreme south would be filled with foreigners. However, this year, the beaches are much calmer with fewer tourists.

Tourism in 2023 has left many of the stakeholders unhappy.
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SHACKS OWNERS UNHAPPY

President of the All Goa Shack Owners Welfare Association, Cruz Cardozo, said, "Shack owners from all over are complaining about the decline in tourists this season. The delay in shack allotment has been a major setback. We were not allotted the licenses on time which also led to loss for us – we lost the Diwali-Chaturthi crowd too.”
Though Canacona taluka is mostly visited by foreigners, in 2022, there were around 8,451 foreign tourists, while this year till the month of May there were a total of 10,820 foreigners visiting the place.

Operators rue the delay in allotment of shacks.
Operators rue the delay in allotment of shacks.

Cardozo added, “Before Christmas we did get a few customers and the year-end also looks good.” "Post New Year celebrations, we will have to check on the footfalls, but I feel there won’t be much of a crowd. Our shack licences are valid up till 31 May, but we will shut our shacks by March-April," he said.

A water sports agency from Candolim has experienced very few takers for water sports. “We got very few customers this year. The shacks were not opened and we would get calls from guests from different cities asking if the shacks wouldn’t open. There was this rumour spread that Goa was closed for tourism.”

He added, “We get only the retired English tourists, what about the youngsters? Our infrastructure like roads, transport are in pathetic conditions, and we expect to get high end tourists? How?” he asked.

A water sports agency from Candolim claims there are very few takers for water sports.
A water sports agency from Candolim claims there are very few takers for water sports.

With tourism 2023 ending on a not-too good note, some of the stakeholders in the coastal belt are hoping that New Year's eve will at least help them to make up for some of the losses due to the delay in allotment of shacks.

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