The India-Russia connect: Visa-free travel on cards

THE GOAN NETWORK | MAY 19, 2024, 12:06 AM IST

PANAJI

The tourism stakeholders are thrilled about the likely visa-free travel agreement between India and Russia, citing it would be a major boost for inbound tourism and a chance for Goans to travel to this lesser-visited, expensive country.

“It is a fantastic and most welcome announcement for the tourism industry in Goa. It will facilitate seamless travel for Russian visitors to Goa,” said the President of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) Jack Sukhija, while speaking to The Goan.

Recent reports indicate that India and Russia are set to begin landmark discussions that could lead to visa-free tourist exchanges between the two countries to significantly enhance tourism flows. The first round of discussions is scheduled for June, during which the countries will explore the feasibility of a bilateral agreement that could be finalised by the end of the year.

Russians constitute the highest among foreign tourists to Goa, and if the deal is sealed, the coastal State is expected to see a boost in arrivals. 

According to provisional figures, Goa recorded 5-6 charter flights per day before the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing in over 100,000 Russian tourists, who are known to be high spenders compared to British tourists -- ranking second in arrivals in Goa.

Since Covid-19, the number of flights has dropped to 5-6 per week, reducing the number of Russian tourists to 40-50,000 each season.

Nevertheless, with the likely deal, Goa could see resurgence. “Both inbound and outbound tourism will grow, and I think it is important for India because we have a lot to offer, from culture and heritage to cuisine and landscapes. About Goa, it will be at the top of the tourism charts as it will further strengthen inbound tourism," said outgoing TTAG President Nilesh Shah.

He also expressed optimism that the frequency of scheduled flights from Russia could increase, while also providing Goans with the opportunity to travel to Russia, for which obtaining a visa hasn’t been easy so far.

As per national reports, the proposed visa-free arrangement with India, if successful, is expected to open new avenues for travelers, and enhance cultural exchanges and economic ties between the two historically cooperative nations.  



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