Panaji, Dec 15 (IANS): The season's first international charter tourist flight arrived from Almaty in Kazakhstan at Goa's Dabolim international airport on Wednesday, even as an Airport Authority of India official said that domestic passenger movement has already surpassed pre-Covid levels in the tourist state.
"The first charter has landed from Almaty belonging to Air Astana. After that we have a SCAT airlines, which is also going to operate from Almaty. We have given slots to Rosiya also. Right now we have given 40 slots to these three airlines," Goa airport director Gagan Malik said.
The 159 passengers onboard the charter flight from Almaty were welcomed by Goa Protocol Minister Mauvin Godinho and Tourism department officials at the Dabolim international airport. Charter flights account for the bulk of the international tourists arrivals to Goa. Nearly half a million foreign tourists arrived in Goa in 2019.
"Slowly I am expecting these numbers to increase because as confidence grows more slots will be asked for. Today, we have 159 passengers coming in the first charter flight. It is a good sign in itself. All protocols are being followed. After two years it is a good sign that tourism is reviving itself as far as international tourism is concerned," Malik also said, adding that more international flights could be expected to operate from Goa by the end of December.
He also said that the number of domestic flights operating at the Goa airport had already exceeded pre-Covid levels.
"As far as domestic passengers are concerned, we have crossed pre-Covid levels long back. Last Sunday I had 75 departures which has never been the case even at pre-Covid levels. Tourists are coming into Goa," Malik said.