`Limited open skies policy may help Goa Tourism`

Panaji, Sep 8 (IANS) A limited open skies policy may work wonders for Goa’s tourism and aviation sectors and help the state attract tourists from the Southeast Asian and the Middle East regions, a senior Goa Tourism official has said.

He said doing so may also help state become an aviation hub for flights emanating from the two regions.

Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of an aviation company event held here, Goa Tourism Director Ameya Abhyankar said the state could see increased interest from the Polish and Dutch markets in the forthcoming tourist season.

“We are requesting the union civil aviation ministry to approve the limited open skies policy for the South-East Asian and the Middle East region. It will help us get traffic from the two regions and promote tourism,” Abhyankar said.

A limited open skies police refers to flight routes allowing unlimited air traffic between two nations or clusters of countries.

Abhyankar said increasing air traffic would automatically decrease flight tickets to and from Goa, which would make the destination even more attractive to tourists.

Once Mopa airport, an upcoming greenfield airport project, comes into being over the next few years, the limited open skies policy would help generate traffic to and from Goa to the Middle East and southeast Asia, he added.

Abhyankar said while the Russian tourist arrivals could face a drop, due to the economic crisis in the country, other European countries could bail out Goa’s tourism season.

“We have received a tremendous response from the Poland and Dutch markets. We expect a good number of tourists from these two countries in the coming season,” he said.

Goa’s conventional tourist season starts in October and winds up in March, when the mild winter sun works as a good break for travellers from Russia, United Kingdom, Germany and other European countries from the harsh winter.

Three million tourists visit Goa annually, nearly half a million of which are foreigners.

Russians top the list of foreign arrivals on Goa’s beaches followed by tourists from Britain.

The need for new markets has arisen as last year, the number of tourists from Russia and Europe fell drastically due to the crisis in the Ukraine and the general economic slowdown in Europe.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in)

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