One of the country’s most popular holiday destinations and a leading magnet for foreign tourists, Goa is struggling to keep pace with India’s tourism boom, with the industry there growing by merely 0-1 per cent overall in the last five years.
The state of sunny beaches does not figure among the top 20 states in terms of growth in domestic tourist arrivals and has fallen off the list of top 10 in terms of growth in attracting foreign tourists, according to latest data from the tourism ministry.
Saturation, a spate of crimes involving foreign tourists and the emergence of other attractive destinations at home and abroad are being blamed for this slowdown.
Despite its seasoned hospitality industry offering attractive packages through the year, domestic footfalls in Goa grew by a dismal 0.08 per cent overall during the five years from 2007 as opposed to double and even triple-digit growth witnessed by most states.
What is not good news for the state where tourism is the main source of livelihood is that lesser known destinations such as Bihar and West Bengal —at ranks seven and six respectively —have beaten Goa in the growth of foreign tourist arrivals in the past two years. Goa is at a distant 11.
In 2012, around 4.5 lakh foreign tourists visited Goa, up from 4.4 lakh in the previous year. During the same period, domestic tourist arrivals increased only by around one lakh, showing a 5 per cent growth, behind 22 other states.
Industry insiders say Goa itself is to blame for this decline.
“Tourists want privacy on the beach, safety of their family and security for their belongings. Over the years, Goa’s standard on all three counts started getting relaxed. Naturally tourists are increasingly choosing other locations,” said Iqbal Mulla, president of the Travel Agents Association of India.
It is not like foreign tourists are not coming to India. Data shows that in the last two years, other popular destinations such as Rajasthan and Kerala have seen foreign tourist traffic grow by around 8 per cent, above the national growth rate of 6.3 per cent. Goa saw only 1 per cent growth.