Panaji: The Goa government, along with the Union Civil Aviation Ministry, is in talks with Air India to ply additional flights from London to Goa in a bid to tide over the crisis arisen following the collapse of leading travel agency Thomas Cook, Goa Small and Medium Hoteliers Association president Serafin Cotta said on Friday.
“Chief Minister Pramod Sawant assured us that the government was looking to engage Air India to fill in the gap in foreign tourist footfalls in the present circumstances due to the fall of Thomas Cook,” Cotta told IANS on Friday soon after meeting Sawant at the state Secretariat.
“With the help of the Central government, Goa is working on facilitating a slot for flying two Air India flights from London to our state every week. If slots are available, the flights could become a reality by November,” Cotta said.
Sawant as well as Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar have expressed concern over the closure of Thomas Cook earlier this week and have said that the development could impact the tourism season in Goa, which begins in October.
In 2018, Thomas Cook charter flights ferried 2,000 tourists every week from the UK to Goa during the extended tourism season which stretches from October to April. For the upcoming season this year, 17,500 British travellers had already booked passage to Goa with Thomas Cook, which now stand cancelled with the collapse of the global tourism travel firm.
According to Cotta, the fall of the leading tourism travel agency could result in a shortfall of at least 60,000 to 70,000 thousand British tourists this season.
“A lot of the Thomas Cook charters were dealing small and medium hotels. This fall of the company will directly impact around 200 hotels, which amounts to 15,000 to 20,000 room nights,” he added.
Goa attracts nearly eight million tourists, annually, of whom more than half a million are foreigners.