Goa in the Rains

The ‘tourist season’ officially ended on May 31. The shacks have been taken apart, water sports operators have put away their equipment and hotels have begun refurbishing looking ahead to October. But, official or not doesn’t bother the tourists who continue to trickle in.“We have already crossed 6/6 (six months on/six months off) some time back. Our occupancy rates in some of our residences are now hovering around 50% during the off-season,” said Elvis Gomes, tourism director and Goa Tourism Development Corporation managing director.From being restricted to six months, the tourist season in the state could be extending its term to eight months. Subtle signs that Goan tourism is heading towards a new era - that of a 365 day destination - are manifesting. It may be happening slowly, with tourists just trickling in, but compare this with the past when tourists opting to visit Goa for a monsoon holiday was almost unthinkable and there definitely is a change.The Tourism department’s campaign of Goa as a 365 day destination is beginning to bear fruit. While that magic figure of 365 many not be attainable immediately, the shift from the 6/6 concept that the state had settled into for decades, shows that this can change. Today, from 6/6, tourism is definitely at 7/5 (seven months on/five months off) and inching towards 8/4. “It’s a small shift,” says Serafino Cotta, convenor of the Federation of Small, Medium Hotels and Guest Houses. “As compared to a few years back, Indian tourists are coming to Goa in the rains. They are not here to relax or find solitude and you can find them at popular, crowded tourist spots such as Colva, Candolim, Calangute and Baga,” said Cotta. A rise in tourist arrivals is corroborated by inter-state bus operators. “There is a demand on weekends especially on our Mumbai-Goa route,” says Amit Shetye, who runs a ticket counter at Patto-Panaji. “We have been noticing students holidaying in Goa this season. This could be because it’s vacation time for Delhi educational institutions,” Shetye said. Weekend holidayers are perhaps keeping Goan tourism going during the rains. “There are also families and groups who would normally go for a short vacation trip to the hill stations in Maharashtra such as Mahabaleshwar and Lonavla. These tourists are now giving Goa a try, wanting to experience this place during the rains,” he added. Besides wearing a refreshing new look during the monsoon — the fields green and the air cool — hotel rates down substantially is what’s drawing tourists to the state.All hotels in the state reduce their prices substantially during the monsoon. Room rates are slashed by almost 30% and a room in an average hotel in Panaji that would cost Rs 450 during season, can be had for just Rs 250 during off-season. GTDC too has a different rate card for the monsoon with three different rates for the year: monsoon rate - June to September; medium rate - October to November; and high rate - December to January. “Tourists have been offered incentives to visit the state during the monsoons, with discounts on food, beverages and cruise trips. In fact, we are now encouraging local Goans to take a holiday in the state. We have started campaigns such as ‘Utt Re Goenkara’,” Gomes added.Travelling also is cheaper. Road fares come down, sometimes drastically during the monsoon. A Volvo bus ticket to Goa from Mumbai, which averages between Rs 800 and Rs 1,200 during the season, costs around Rs 500 during the off-season. For those looking for a budget holiday, Goa in the rains is the perfect answer.

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