Include UK, Canada in e-visa for tourism growth: Goa tourism association

Panaji, June 15 (IANS) Expressing concern over the low footfall of foreign tourists due to Covid pandemic and other issues, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has urged Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to convince the Centre to issue e-visas to the citizens of the UK, Canada, Kyrgyzstan and other nations.

TTAG President Nilesh Shah told IANS that they have also raised the issue of harassment done to tourists by the Goa Police. “They should not be treated like criminals. If they violate the traffic signals, then with good talks it should be handled, not by harassing them,” he said.

Shah said that the next season will be fully dependent on the arrival of charter flights, which should be encouraged.

“Goa’s tourism sector has suffered due to withdrawal of e-visa for travellers from the UK, Canda, Kyrgyzstan and other countries. We have requested the Chief Minister to take this matter to the Central government and find a solution over it,” Shah said.

According to Shah, mostly senior citizens from the UK visit Goa and hence they find it difficult to apply for a regular paper visa at the Indian embassy, which involves additional cost of travelling and other expenses.

“That is why we have requested to include the UK in the e-visa service. This will help tourism in Goa,” he said.

Shah said that before the Covid pandemic, around 40 to 50 thousand UK nationals used to travel Goa by charter flights, also there was a good number of tourists coming by scheduled flights. “35 to 45 per cent of tourists we get from Russia,” he said.

“During Covid pandemic some travel companies had shut their operations, now few are interested in ventures. Hence, we hope that in the coming season we will get tourists from the UK and Russia,” he said, adding that repeat tourists from both these places travel to Goa.

“Apart from this, the industry is facing online frauds while booking the hotels. Fraudsters have developed the websites of hotels and on the pretext of providing rooms in the hotel they cheat tourists. Government should take action on such fraud practices, so the tourist is not looted before landing in Goa,” he said, adding TTAG had complained to the Goa Police in this regard.

He also said that Mopa airport will help the tourism sector as air traffic at Dabolim airport was limited. “Now travellers can come directly to Goa through scheduled flights once the services are in place,” Shah said.

He said along with good connectivity of bus transport service, Taxi meter implementation should take place so the tourist can travel paying a reasonable fare.