Panaji: Goa Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar on Saturday said the steep fall in the number of Russian tourists visiting the state this season is due to Russian President Vladimir Putin`s guidelines to them.
Putin has ordered Russians not to move out of the country for leisure and fun, fearing it will further affect the already shaky Russian economy, Parulekar told reporters at a conference at the Goa tourism headquarters here.
"The problem is that the Russian economy is down. The rouble has come down. Putin has given guidelines, asking Russians not to travel outside the country, unless it is an official visit," Parulekar replied when asked about the reason behind the decreasing number of Russian tourists this season.
"They (Russians) can travel within their own country. That is the reason why their overall number has come down in the state," he said.
Goa`s tourism season stretches from October to March and the 2013-14 season has been marked by a significant drop in the number of foreign tourists, especially Russians.
While the tourism minister was unable to give an exact number, he said the drop was as much as 30 to 35 percent. More than one lakh Russians arrived in Goa in the 2012-13 season.
Parulekar said the tourism ministry has been making efforts to explore Europe and look beyond Russia to market Goa as a tourism destination in the hope of getting more tourists for the coming season.
Goa`s mild winter sun works as a good break for travellers from Russia, Britain and Germany from the harsh winter in their countries. Three million tourists visit Goa annually, nearly half a million of whom are foreigners.