Tour Operators from India’s Goa Ask for Russians to Be Exempt from Visa Ban

The president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa Savio Messiah said this week that the chartered season will come to an early end with the recently imposed ban on visas due to the coronavirus outbreak, Business Standard reports.

“We want to approach the government seeking exemption for Russian travelers from the visa ban. Russia is not affected by the coronavirus,” he said.

“But it looks unlikely that Mumbai authorities will listen to the request as scare is widespread. We have to look at the issue from a broader perspective,” he added.

During the last tourist season, 250 chartered flights had arrived from different countries, including Russia and the UK. The collapse of travel firm Thomas Cook in the UK last year had severely affected chartered flights to Goa.

The coronavirus scare has abruptly cut short the charter tourism season in Goa midway with visas for international travelers getting suspended from March 13 midnight onwards.

India on Wednesday suspended all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, till April 15 in a bid to contain the spread of novel coronavirus. The suspension came into effect from March 13 midnight.

With this, the already struggling state tourism industry is staring at huge losses as it depends on foreign travelers to a large extent for revenue generation.

Goa Airport Director Gagan Malik said the actual situation on chartered flights, which bring tourists to the state, will be clear only in the wee hours of March 14.

Those who are flying before 5.30 AM of March 14 will be allowed to enter the country. But considering the current situation, it looks difficult that any charters will come now, he said.

Malik said the airport was expecting 60-70 more chartered flights to arrive till the end of May when the tourist season ends.

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