Panaji: 1091 visas were issued till December 25 this year within a week after the Visa on Arrival (VoA) facility started at the Goa airport at Dabolim, officials said today.
Airport officials claim that on an average 100 VoA are being issued a day with effect from December 17, 2014.
Goa airport had issued 375 VoA between December 4-16. Assistant Director and Chief Immigration Officer Aravind Kumar H Nair said the figure has tripled within a period of 10 days and is going to increase over the next couple of days.
There is an increase in charter arrivals too, Nair said, adding that the surge will continue as tourism has entered the peak season with Christmas and New Year festivities attracting tourists from round the globe.
So far, VoA to Russian nationals top the charts. As per data furnished by Goa airport, VoA issued to foreign nationals is as follows: Russia (595), Ukraine (430), USA (25), Germany (15), UAE (7), Australia (4) Philippines (4), Israel (3), Jordan (3), New Zealand (2), Brazil (1) Finland (1), Kenya (1) Norway (1) and Singapore (1).
Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar said, "I have been reiterating this right from the beginning that the VoA facility at Goa airport will bring in international tourists in large numbers. The very fact that it has increased within a period of 10 days shows that within the next few weeks and months, this facility will further boost tourist arrivals from across the globe.
We are also expecting a new list with inclusion of more countries for issue of VoA. Goa is keeping its fingers crossed as the new list could include UK and will help bring in more foreign tourists from that country to Goa," he said.
Marketing strategies on VoA across the globe via social media like Facebook, Twitter, advertisements and media publicity has been chalked out and Goa Tourism is confident that the state will top the charts as far as issue of VoA to foreign nationals is concerned, Mr Parulekar added.
The Tourism Department has also started taking an inventory of tourist arrivals by rail and road, and this will provide a more accurate figure on tourist arrivals in Goa.
A senior Tourism Department official said they are in the process of involving the Indian Railways, Konkan Railways, road transport agencies and toll booths at state borders to furnish data of tourist arrivals based on bookings and vehicle entry into the state.