25% Britons who arrive in Goa come back


Nearly 25 per cent of the Britons who arrive in Goa as tourists, return to the state same season, thus confirming that Goa has a repeat value.

Coming out with this observation, Mr Platon Loizou, the first tour operator to start London-Goa chartered airlines service, way back in 1991, said that historic welcoming and friendliness of the Goan people, good value for money, guaranteed weather and finally, beautiful beaches, in that order attract the British holiday makers to Goa.

The number of repeat arrivals could be increased, if factors such as airport facilities, street garbage, and lack of maintenance of environment in the state are improved upon, he added.

Mr Loizou, a native of Greece, who has lived most of his life in UK runs Jewel in the Crown Holidays tour company and was recently awarded with the "Best Overseas Charter Operator" award for the year 2006-2007 from the Union Minister for Tourism and Culture, Ms Ambika Soni.

'This tourist season, my travel company has brought around 10,000 tourists to Goa,' he informed, adding that the tourists are brought in a package deal and moves from Goa to Kerala, Rajasthan and the Himalayas, before going back to UK.

The security of the British tourists in Goa is a lesser concern than the availability of visa for these tourists desiring to visit Goa, Mr Loizou observed, adding that the "Incredible India" campaign launched by the Indian government fails to attract more Britons to India as they are provided with a visa for only 6 months.

'Ideally speaking, the tourists should be provided with a visa of 2 year duration, with a condition that they can stay in India for a maximum period of 90 days,' he suggested.

In fact, the staff at the Indian High Commission in London has been slashed by 30 per cent, which has made the visa provision process cumbersome, the tour operator pointed out.

Mr Loizou informed that each British tourist - ranging from a plumber to a dentist - has to pay £ 380 as the seat cost towards travel while they have to shell out £ 450 for an average package for two-week stay. 'But then, this rate depends on in which part of the year they travel to Goa,' he added.

It was also informed that the travel charges would go up by £ 50 by next tourist season, while there will be 10 per cent hike in the accommodation cost by next year. The tourist season for Britons starts in October and ends in April.

Mr Loizou, who also operates tours to Turkey and Egypt stated that nearly 60 per cent of the British tourists who arrive in Goa are in their 40s. There are also older people who are tired of gloomy English winter and want to get charged with the sunshine, he mentioned.

Stating that Goa needs sustainable tourism, without its development, Mr Loizou said that the British tourists are very much cleanliness conscious and would not do anything to dirty Goa.

'Goa has changed over the last two decades since I brought my first chartered tourists here, with traffic jams and lack of facilities bothering the tourists,' he said, adding 'despite security being an issue, the Britons will love to visit Goa again and again'.

But then so many other things have changed too, from 2 chartered flight from London to Goa every week, during 1990s to 11 such flights, which operate currently in a week’s time, Mr Loizou said, adding that changing times have forced him to shift 40 per cent of his business on the internet. (courtesy navhindtimes.com)