Post Thomas Cook, Goa tourism majors scout for alternatives

Post Thomas Cook, Goa tourism majors scout for alternatives

Panaji: Rattled by the closure of British tourism travel firm Thomas Cook, travel and tourism industry stakeholders in Goa, will lobby with the Union Ministry for Civil Aviation to seek replacement slots for flights operated by other charter tourism operators ferrying tourists from the UK to Goa, during the upcoming season.

Savio Messias, President of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, said the association was already in talks with other tourism charter companies to make up for the potential drop in international tourist arrivals, due to the sudden collapse of Thomas Cook, which facilitated the package holiday plans of more than a lakh British tourists to Goa annually.

"Thomas Cook handlers in Goa say a lot of bookings were coming in from the UK. Now the money would have to be refunded and people who have applied for visas may come on other flights. We have to find a way to bring them to Goa. We are working on it, we are talking to a couple of airlines," Messias said.

"We will be taking up the matter with the government, because to get in additional flights will require the help of the Civil Aviation Ministry. So we will be talking to the government," Messias said.

Goa has been a traditional winter vacation for Europeans, especially from Russia and UK, who arrive in the coastal state to beat the freezing cold in their respective countries. Goa annually attracts nearly eight million tourists every year, out of which about half a million are foreigners.

Several hotels, according to Messias, were likely to face hardship in Goa, because they were entirely dependent on Thomas Cook for filling up their accommodation.

According to Aloo Gomes Pereira, chief operating officer of Trail Blazer tours, which handles Thomas Cook operations in Goa, 17,500 tourists from the UK had already booked a holiday to Goa, between the months of November and April and that the closure of Thomas Cook would result in a loss of nearly Rs 35 crore to the state government by way of Goods and Services Tax.

"From November to April, they used to bring around three flights each. From December to March it was seven flights a week. Around 17,500 people had signed on for package tours to Goa," he said. The duration of package tours can vary from seven days to 21 days, but the most opted for package tour to Goa lasts for 14 days.

Expressing shock at the development, Pereira also said, that the impact on the hoteliers completely dependent on Thomas Cook for filling up their accommodation, would be severely hit by the firm's closure.

"Can you imagine the impact on hoteliers? It is a huge impact for their revenues. Some of the hoteliers were totally dependent on Thomas Cook business. What will happen to them, to their staff?" Pereira said.