Even as travel and tourism industry stakeholders have claimed that foreign tourist arrivals to Goa had dropped over the last two years, state Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on Wednesday quoted figures to show that foreign tourist arrivals had actually increased over the last three years.
"Foreign tourist arrivals for the last three years indicates increase of tourists in Goa," Ajgaonkar told the Goa legislative Assembly in a written reply on Wednesday.
Ajgaonkar claimed that in 2016, 2017 and 2018 total 6,80,683, 8,90,459 and 9,33,841 tourists arrived in Goa respectively.
The Tourism Minister, while responding to a question from Congress MLA Aleixo Reginaldo also said that while there was a marginal dip in the arrival of chartered flights, free independent travellers made up for the numbers.
"Except, for Russia, there has not been any major reduction of Charter flights for Goa. However, the number of tourists arrival by Charter is reduced marginally," Ajgaonkar said.
He also said, that efforts are being made to attract more foreign tourists to Goa.
"However, it is left up to the tourists and the travel agents to decide the best mode of transportation whether to travel by charter or otherwise. Figures indicates there is increase in foreign tourists," he said.
Earlier this year, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa had submitted a white paper about the decline in the tourism to Ajgaonkar urging the state government to take urgent steps to address the dip in arrivals.
Goa is ranked as one of the best beach tourism destinations in the country.