A weak rouble and the bankruptcy of some large Russian tour operators are likely to lead to lesser tourist arrivals from Russia to the two Indian states.
Tourism authorities in the Indian states of Kerala and Goa are alarmed by a potential fall in Russian visitors this season.
In the first two weeks of October, no charter flights from Russia have landed in Kerala, which hosted 20,000 Russian visitors last year. “We have been informed that the weakening of the Russian currency makes a chartered package holiday to Kerala unprofitable at the moment, Renju Pillai, who is a tour operator affiliated with the Kerala Hotels and Restaurants Association told RIR. “The Russians are among the largest spenders, especially on alcohol, which will be banned in the future,” he added.
The drop in Russian visitors can in large part be attributed to the weakness of the rouble this year. The Russian currency has fallen by over 18 percent against the U.S. dollar this year and is trading below 40 to the dollar, despite recent interventions by Russia’s Central Bank. Russia’s Central Bank has spent about $6 billion from its international reserves in the past ten days to prop up the national currency, Central Bank chief Elvira Nabiullina said on Monday.
The fall in outbound tourist numbers from Russia has also led to the bankruptcy of major tour operators.
Goa is also preparing for a shortfall from Russia by trying to woo more domestic tourists, the Economic Times said on its website. The western Indian state is likely to see a drop of 10-15 percent in the number of charter flights this winter from 996 arrivals last year, the paper cited industry sources as saying.
“The outlook for charters isn’t positive this season primarily because the rouble has depreciated and the spending power of Russians is going to be lower against the dollar,” Shridhar Nair, general manager at the Leela Goa told the paper. “We are hoping we get some repeat Russian travellers from last year from scheduled flights.”
According to the ET report, The Leela gets almost 40 percent of its business during the season from charters, of which nearly 60 percent are from Russia.
An electronic visa system for Russian tourists will be rolled out before the end of the year by the Indian government. Simpler visa procedures should partly offset the fall in tourism numbers from Russia, according to Indian industry insiders.