Nothing can better describe the future prospects of tourism in Goa than the rush of big hotel chains looking to build or acquire properties in the state's beach belts. Over 12 five-star hotels and resorts are set to dot Goa's coastal villages.
Currently, there 3,465 five-star rooms in Goa and this is expected to almost double over the next two to three years. As Goa looks to tap the higher income travellers, six new projects have been proposed in North Goa and an identical number in South Goa, sources said.
Travel and tourism association of Goa (TTAG) spokesperson Ralph de Sousa said the upper-middle income group in India is growing and the economy is on a positive run, both indictors of growth. "This is an indicator that there is a further need for rooms in the luxury segment in Goa. The state is also trying to make inroads in the luxury segments in the international tourism markets. High profile events in Goa are getting due attention and they enhance demand in luxury segment from international visitors," de Souza said.
Calangute, one of the state's tourism hotspots, will soon boast of three new five-star properties. A second Holiday Inn-one already exists in South Goa-is coming up near Calangute market. An Intercontinental convention centre-resort is coming up in Baga, while another property with the Marriott brand is slated for Khobravaddo.
Ronil Resort at Baga is being upgraded into a deluxe five-star property, while Riviera de Goa in Arpora recently upgraded and rebranded itself as DoubleTree by Hilton, the first Hilton property in Goa.
Candolim, which already boasts of three Vivanta by Taj properties and two other five-star properties-Regina Fortune Select and O Hotel-may see one more five-star property in Saipem.
Calangute panchayat member Joseph Sequeira said the rise in five-star properties in the village will see a change in the profile of visitors, with more quality tourists coming to Calangute. The village for long has been seen as the mass market tourism destination, while neighbouring Candolim has been seen as a more exclusive place because of the large number of five-star resorts. Calangute at the moment has only one five-star-La Calypso. There are two five-stars in neighbouring Arpora-The Rio Resort and DoubleTree by Hilton.
Though more hotels are on the anvil, the industry is also playing a wait-and-watch game in view of the plans to set up an airport at Mopa in North Goa. Once Mopa airport in Pernem taluka is functional, the airport at Dabolim may not attract too many travelers, even if it remains functional as promised by the government.
"There are at least three hotel projects in Cavelossim which have secured the necessary permissions from the panchayat long ago. One of the main reasons for the investors' hesitation in going ahead with the project could be the proposed Mopa airport. There are concerns that as and when the Mopa airport gets functional, the flow of tourists will shift from South to North Goa," a source said.
There are already 25 five-star resorts in Goa certified by the Union tourism ministry. Besides these, there are a few others which describe themselves as five-star resorts or five-star boutique resorts, but are not certified as such by the Union tourism ministry. Of these, 13 properties are in North Goa.
Tourism minister Dilip Parulekar said the state tourism department does not have much of a role to play in this matter since it's the Union tourism ministry which certifies the hotels. All building approvals pass through the PDA and TCP departments.
A source in the North Goa Planning and Development Authority said at least three more five-star resorts have been approved in Panaji. One of these will be at Patto Plaza, while another is going to be built in Dona Paula. A reason for the demand for five-star hotel rooms in Panaji is the round-the-year visitors to the off-shore casinos in river Mandovi. Several high-profile travellers come calling on weekends to spend time and money at the casinos and need a room to stay in.
Casino Carnival marketing director Shyam Haridass said the casino industry books about 2,500 room-nights a month in five-star, four-star and three-star hotels. At peak times, there is a shortage of starred accommodation in and around Panaji, as around 95% of the casino clientele is from outside the state and want proximity to off-shore casinos.
De Souza said, "We have to also ensure that the rich and the famous visitors are given an opportunity to spend their money in Goa on leisure, fine dining, high-end sports and shopping. Without the above facilities there will not be a chance to earn revenues and hence it will not serve the purpose of inviting high-end tourists to Goa."
Of the half a million foreign tourists who mainly arrive between November and April, around 45% come as charter tourists, while 55% come at FITs or groups through schedule international airlines. "The profile of international guest is changing. In order to capture the high-end tourists, we have to create facilities like better infrastructure at the airports, in mass transit systems and rid Goa of litter and garbage. The semblance of order that the government is seeking to create on the beaches will help a lot in this exercise of attracting upmarket tourists to Goa," de Souza said.
The luxury rooms do not come cheap. Industry insiders said five-star rates in Goa vary depending on the class of hotel and proximity to beaches. Typically, during the season, the rates range between Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000 per night and this shoots up to between Rs 25,000 and Rs 40,000 per night during the peak Christmas and New Year week. The rates dip during the monsoon and rooms are available at prices ranging from Rs 4,500 to Rs 10,000 per night.
Five-star Deluxe: 13
1) Riviera De Goa Resort, Arpora – 108 rooms.
2) Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Sap, Arossim Beach, Cansaulim – 250 rooms.
3) Vivanta by Taj, St Inez, Panaji – 170 rooms.
4) Zuri White Sands, Pedda, Varca – 154 rooms.
5) Inter Continental The Lalit Goa Resort (Bharat Hotels Ltd.), Raj Baga, Canacona – 255 rooms.
6) Vivanta by Taj – Holiday Village, Dando, Candolim – 142 rooms
7) Hotel Cidade De Goa, Vainguinim Beach, Dona Paula – 180 rooms
8) Vivanta By Taj- Fort Aguada Sinquerim – 145 rooms
9) Hotel Goa Marriott Resort, Miramar, Panaji – 180 rooms
10) Hotel Radisson Blu Resort, Goa Mobor, Cavelossim – 132 rooms
11) Hotel Ramada Caravela Beach Resort, Varca – 199 rooms
12) Vainguinim Valley Resort, Vainguinim Valley, Dona Paula – 53 rooms
13) Vivanta By Taj Exotica, Benaulim – 140 rooms
1) Hoilday Inn Resort, Mobor Beach, Cavelossim – 203 rooms
2) Hotel Neo Majestic, Porvorim – 50 rooms
3) Fortune Select Regina, Candolim – 102 rooms
4) The Kenilworth Beach Resort & Spa, Utorda – 104 rooms
5) Heritage Village Club, Arossim, Cansaulim – 97 rooms
6) Bogmallo Beach Resort, Bogmallo – 126 rooms
7) The Crown Goa, Panaji – 43 rooms
8) Hotel Dona Sylvia, Cavelossim – 181 rooms
9) Devaaya Ayurveda spa resort, Diwar, Ilhas – 60 rooms
10) Club Mahindra, Varca – 200 rooms
11) Resort Rio, Tambudki, Arpora – 130 rooms
12) Hotel La Calypso, Saunta Vaddo, Calangute – 60 rooms
Total number of five-star rooms (including five-star deluxe): 3,465 [TOI]