Southeast Asian nations pose threat to Goa tourism


Panaji: Goa, one of the major tourism destinations in Asia-Pacific, could be losing out to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, say industry officials here.

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“Goa’s share in the regional tourism market is rapidly shrinking because of tough competition from Southeast Asian countries,” said Travel and Tourism Association of Goa president Ralph de Souza.

“Earlier Goa faced competition from destinations like the West Indies, Egypt and some islands in the Indian Ocean. Now Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have emerged as new competition,” de Souza told IANS.

According to him, the tourism industry in the state needs “out-of-the-box thinking and innovations” to prop itself as the number one tourist destination in the region.

“Look at these three countries (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), they have come together to promote tourism aggressively. Today, you go to any of these countries and you will get free access to the other two free,” de Souza said.

What also makes these three countries tourists hot spots are their excellent beaches and relatively lesser known environs.

What has also hit Goa’s tourism industry is the global recession. “Innovation is the only way to revive the sector and bringing back people who had cut down on travel spending,” said de Souza.

It is not only the domestic stakeholders who have been hit by the slowdown.

According to Bush Miranda, a ground-handler for German charter flight airline Condor, his company’s business was down nearly 20 percent this year as compared with 2008.

“Last year we had a drop of 30 percent, which means business has dropped by nearly 50 percent over the last two years,” he added.

In 2007, 760 foreign charter flights touched down in Goa. This dropped to 669 in 2008.

The coastal state of Goa, known for its sunny beaches and fun-seeking lifestyle, annually sees nearly two million tourists arrive in the state, nearly a quarter of whom being foreigners.

Tourists from Britain, Russia, Germany and Israel top the number of visitors arriving in Goa every season.