Goa may witness drop in Russian tourists

On the eve of the tourism high season comes news that the number of Russians arriving in the State this year is likely to drop.

Of the 1,80,000 Russian tourists expected in Goa this season, at least 25,000 are heading to South India’s seaside location Kerala which has emerged as a strong competitor for Goa as it offers good alternatives to people looking at Goa.

“From the information available to me from LDM Moscow, I can confirm that around 25,000 Russian tourists headed for the west coast of India, have preferred Kerala as their holiday destination in the coming season,” Russian representative in Goa Adv Vikram Varma told Herald.

There could be however other reasons forcing the Russians diverting their interest to another state. Tourism officials say that often-repeated claims about existence of Russian mafia, allegations that those connected with Russian mafias are offloading investment in the tourism industry and alleged role of Russian women in prostitution rackets are probably resulted in them deciding to give Goa a miss.

Alexey Novikov, Consul General of Russian Federation in Mumbai, who recently visited Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had rubbished allegations stating that such reports are ‘absolute lie’. He was also quoted as saying that many people from Commonwealth of Independent States visit Goa and they speak Russian but they are not Russian nationals.

About 1.33 lakh Russian tourists had visited Goa in the last tourist season topping the tourists’ arrival chart which was earlier dominated by British tourists.

According to the statistics tabled in the Monsoon Session of the Legislative Assembly, 1,54,122 tourists arrived from Britain to Goa in 2010. The number shrank to 117,683 in 2011. On the other hand, the number of Russian tourists coming into Goa escalated to 1,33,780 in 2011 from 57,623 in the preceding year. [H]