Goa saw good monsoon tourism

Goa registered a marginal 6.5% growth in monsoon tourism this year for the four months from June to September, as compared to the same period last year, tourism department figures showed.

While for the four monsoon months last year, Goa got 3.80 lakh visitors, both domestic and foreign, for the corresponding period this year, Goa received 4.05 lakh tourists, an increase of 24,706 tourists compared to last monsoon.

But the big difference was made by foreign visitors in the month of September this year. While foreign visitors actually fell sharply in July and September compared to the same months last year, foreign tourists shot up greatly in September this year. In actual numbers, Goa had 5,938 foreign visitors in September 2011. But September 2012 saw 16,141 foreigners visiting Goa. In short, foreign visitors rose by almost 60% during this monsoon.

In contrast, domestic tourists which constitute the majority of visitors to Goa, rose by only 3.87% during the monsoon months. While there were 3.62 lakh domestic tourists to Goa last year, this year there were only 3.76 lakh tourists; a rise of only 14,070 domestic tourists in the monsoon months.

Ralph de Souza, spokesperson for the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa ( TTAG) said that though there was a decline in visitors in June and July, the shortfall was compensated for in the months of August and September. Souza agreed that the monsoon months only saw a "marginal increase" in tourists as compared to last monsoon. He said there was a noticeable reduction in MICE () tourism. "Incentive conferences and dealer conferences were less this monsoon but we saw sizeable increase in FITs (free and independent travelers), families, young executives, etc.," Souza said.

Though air fares shot up and affected movement of FITs, hoteliers managed to get business driven by discount offers on rooms and other freebies including transfers from airport and even railway stations. They also threw in other goodies like free half-day sightseeing tours, boat cruises and a variety of packages.

But Epifanio Barreto, president of the Federation of Small and Medium Hotels and Guest Houses in Goa (FOSAM), said small and medium hotels did not do well this monsoon. Barreto said there were too many very low budget tourists that wanted rooms in the range of 300 per night. Giving rooms at this rate is unaffordable to the FOSAM category of hotels as they pay taxes and other fees to the government, Barreto said. [TOI]