Are We Expecting Russian Tourists this Season?

Dmitry Smirnov, owner of The Place (restaurant in Morjim), resident in Goa for 15 years, with his daughter Maria

Since 2008, Russian speaking people have been spending a lot of time in Goa. Weeks, months, years... Why and how did it happen? Firstly, the Goan climate during the season is more comfortable for human beings compared to cold Northern winters. Secondly, the Indian style of living has always been cheaper. And last, but not least, here in Goa, one can feel a kind of freedom, as if you are really in a paradise. Beaches, jungles, fresh fruits, simple village life and for many tourists – parties.

So, we can divide Russian speaking visitors into three categories. Why ‘Russian speaking’, not just simply Russians? You need to know the history a little bit to understand these nuances. USSR was a huge federation of 15 republics. And after the fall of Soviet Union in 1991, these republics became independent nations sooner or later. But nationalities of all these former USSR countries still speak the Russian language -- Ukrainians and Byelorussians perhaps a bit better than Estonians or Georgians. But surely, they can communicate, read and write in Russian. So, in Goa the term ‘Russians’ is loosely used to describe people from these totally different countries which shared their past in the soviet era, like Kazakhstan or Lithuania, for example.

Roman, Olga and their kids - Mitia and Dania

It’s interesting to know that Russian-speaking people in Goa are really representing three absolutely separate groups: 1. Tourists coming by chartered flights for 1-2 weeks, spending in the state all the money they had planned to spend during their entire vacation. 2. Downshifters who don’t like spending the cold season (October - April) in their own country; they usually prefer to travel across Asia, for a period of six months or even more, from India to Thailand, then Vietnam, Cambodia or Bali. 3. And the last group is of ones living in Goa, those who are running some business, those who are happily or unhappily married with some local Goan (majority of them stay in India 100% legally paying taxes, etc.).

Roman, Olga and their kids - Mitia and Dania

So, who is coming to Goa this season? Some of the downshifters had spent all the lock-down here, by the way. And tour operators have informed that chartered flights are going to start from Russia to Goa by the beginning of November 2020. Tours to Goa are on sale, but till now there is no confirmation from Indian or Russian government if international travelling would be possible like it used to happen before. India and Russia (or Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan...) have not given any tourist visa yet to anyone. Let's hope, borders will open soon.

According to the tourist data, Russian-speaking tourists comprise 50%-70% of the visitors. So, it will make a huge difference for touristic business if they really come. ‌But here is another question: will they have enough money with them? The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has made people poor: no job or no earnings from business. Everybody on the globe is facing similar problems -- we are not like before. And no one is sure if our world will ever be the same again.

Goa needs tourists from the first group who come for quick fun, long stayers who rent houses and vehicles from locals. And surely people like me, who have been living here for a long time, helping to build bridges between Indian hospitality and culture, and Russian-speaking guests who cannot speak a single English word sometimes. And who have no idea about local traditions. So, there must be someone who can help to break the language and cultural barrier.

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