Wed, 26 Jun, 2019

Tourism in Goa just endured the worst October month

As the two long weekends of October 2nd and Dussehra failed to bring in a lot of domestic tourists and even international tourists preferring other destinations, tourism industry battled with really tough October month. Some of them hope that November will be better from tourism viewpoint

05th November 2018, 03:33 Hrs

Karan Sehgal  

When the tourism season began in October, no one had expected that the first month would be so tough that hoteliers would have more unsold rooms than sold rooms.   

Neither could anyone have predicted that even the domestic tourists, who otherwise love coming to Goa, would stay away in October.  

The net result: Both the long weekends of October 2nd and Dussehra were flops as far as tourism is concerned. International tourists are increasingly going to other destinations in South East Asia and Eastern Europe compared to Goa.  

Ralph de Sousa, chairman, de Souza Group, said, “Rupee is depreciating. Ideally speaking, we should have been booming because foreign tourists have to spend a lot lesser in their currency. But what is happening is exactly the opposite.”  

He continued, “Other destinations are opening. For example: international travellers are going to Croatia, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Belarus, Greece and also to countries in South East Asia.”  

The question then is: Why is Goa losing out to other destinations? Most stakeholders agree that poor planning has resulted in Goa losing its charm as a destination.   

The number of cheap eateries, low quality hotels, people doing all sorts of businesses with or without approvals has mushroomed in the last five years, which has severely impacted Goa’s pristine beauty and its quaint charm.  

Polly D’Cruz, general manager, The Golden Crown Hotel & Spa in Colva, said, “The occupancy rate in hotels of North Goa was really bad in October. Lot of cancellations also affected the business. By the end of October, most hotels were in damage control mode. They managed to sell the rooms but at lower tariffs.”  

D’Cruz continued, “At our properties in South Goa, we had an average occupancy of 40% in October. But, average occupancy rate was just 10-20% in our properties in North Goa.”  

The experience of other hoteliers was no different as they all battled with unsold rooms in October, which they were clearly not used to.   

Nikheel Shirodkar, general manager, ibis Styles in Calangute, said, “October was a bad month from business viewpoint. We had an average occupancy rate of 66% last year in October, which had come down to 48% to 50% in this year’s October. Dussehra also failed to bring in tourists in significant number.”  

The beach belt of Baga to Sinquerim is also witnessing a fierce tariff war. Gone are the days when hotels would make a cartel to prevent tariff from falling.   

As hotels have mushroomed in Calangute and Candolim, the supply of hotel rooms has gone up while the demand hasn’t shown an equal increase.  

Due to this, tourists could get a hotel room for even Rs 1,000 per night tariff last year between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, which was seen as peak tourism period until few years ago.   

Bhushan Bordekar, general manager, Windsor Bay in Calangute, said, “The room inventory in North Goa is increasing every year, which makes it very difficult to fill up all the rooms. I think the number of domestic tourists is growing at around by 10% every year. But the number of rooms is growing at a higher rate, which is the problem.”  

Two years ago, a 3-star hotel in North Goa could easily sell a room at Rs 3,000 per night tariff in season time. In the last two years, the supply of rooms has gone up to such an extent that one can easily get a hotel room for Rs 1,000-1,200 per night. This makes it very difficult for a 3-star hotel to maintain a tariff of Rs 3,000 per night.  

There is no denying that the tourism in Goa has focused more and more on mass tourists in the last few years.   

At the same time, a whole new tourism industry came up targeting domestic tourists, who would stay in the hotels of North Goa, and go to casinos in Mandovi.  

Unfortunately, little or no concentrated efforts were made to target foreign tourists. Russians continue to dominate the foreign traveller segment in the state and if for some reason Russians don’t come to Goa in large numbers, the gap will be impossible for any kind of tourists to fill in.  

Shirodkar said, “Ruble is depreciating. So even if Russians come to Goa in significant numbers, they will not be able to spend that much.”  

In other words, Goa’s tourism is facing severe headwinds whether we talk about domestic or international travellers. The only glimmer of hope is that the month of November is looking better.  

D’Cruz said, “We are expecting 90% average occupancy rate in our property in South Goa in November. Charter flights will also help in filling up the rooms.”  

Shirodkar said, “As of now, 66% of our room inventory is sold for November. We are hoping that the average occupancy rate for November will touch 88% by the time the month ends.”  

November may turn out to be better for tourism stakeholders, but, the fundamental issues remain. Foreign travellers have a lot of other destinations to go to. The ratio of domestic to foreign tourists is loaded in the favour of domestic tourists, which has already affected Goa’s image as a destination.  

Unless these issues are tackled, the future doesn’t look really promising for tourism in the state.

What is ailing tourism in Goa?

Both the long weekends of Oct 2nd and Dussehra couldn’t bring domestic tourists in large numbers in the state. Due to which, hotels had unsold inventory.  

Foreign tourists increasingly prefer destinations like Croatia, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Belarus and Greece over Goa.  

Russians continue to dominate the foreign traveller segment in the state and if for some reason Russians don’t come to Goa in large numbers, the gap will be impossible for any kind of tourists to fill in.  

Poor planning, especially in beach areas, has badly affected pristine charm and quaint beauty of the state. As a result, only mass tourists get attracted to Goa.  

The ratio of domestic to foreign tourists is loaded in the favour of domestic tourists, which has already affected Goa’s image as a destination.  

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