Goa’s travel and tourism industry stakeholders made the most of the Aug 15-18 long weekend as hoteliers, restaurateurs and tour operators made a killing on the weekend rush, a rare sight in the monsoon, which is traditionally considered offseason in the beach state’s tourism itinerary.
Rain-swept roads and choppy, unswimmable seas were no deterrent for tens of thousands of holidayers, particularly the young, who descended here from near and far to enjoy its stunning sceneries, lush-green vistas, the spicy food, cosmopolitan culture and easygoing lifestyle of this tourist-friendly state.
“For the Indian consumer, travel is clearly non-negotiable and such extended weekends offer impactful opportunity for domestic short breaks and we saw a 35 percent rise in queries and a 25 percent rise in bookings. Domestic short-haul locations such as Goa, Munnar, Ooty and Mussoorie emerged favourites,” Rajeev Kale, chief operating officer (MICE and Sports Holidays) Thomas Cook, told IANS.
Hotels across categories and guest houses along coastal Goa, which are normally on a discount spree this time of the year, reported 100 per cent bookings during the weekend which began with Independence Day on Friday and ended with the festival of Janmashthami on Monday.
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“At our hotel, we had 100 percent occupancy (of 180 rooms) over this weekend, as do we over most long weekends. I guess what also works in our favour is that Goa by itself is a preferred destination for such quick breaks at short notice,” Ranu Alex, General Manager, Goa Marriott Resort and Spa located in the capital, told IANS.
Jack Sukhija, a partner at the Panjim Inn, a heritage hotel located in Fontainhas in the heart of the capital’s quaint Latin quarter, said reservations experienced a “real spurt during three days (thanks to) Indians (tourists) from metros like Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore”.
Away in the beach belt, iconic restaurants like Britto’s at Baga and nightclubs like Titos were packed, a rare sight in the offseason which stretches from April to October.
Fuelled by European chartered tourists, 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, Britain, Germany and the like from the harsh winter in their respective countries.
Three million tourists visit Goa annually, nearly half a million of them foreigners.
“We often had to queue up to enter restaurants. I’ve been here in the monsoon before, but this weekend was extremely crazy in terms of the sheer number of tourists,” Mohit Shah, an entrepreneur from Mumbai, told IANS.
But hoteliers obviously have no complaints about the flurry of footfalls. “Holiday makers are restricted to two nights a week – Friday and Saturday – but a long weekend like this means that the hotel is filled with families on vacation for four days. They not only pay higher room rates but also spend well in restaurants, bars and spas which augurs well for the hotel,” Siddharth Savkur, General Manager, Alila Diwa Goa, a five star hotel located in the coastal beach village of Majorda, 40 km south of Panaji, told IANS.
Alex claimed that long weekends are a great time for the travel and hospitality industry, primarily in terms of a healthy performance, which also brings a surge in revenue.
“Over time, businesses are also able to lock trends and evaluate patterns during such periods,” she added.