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Goa Tourism woos China, Europe amid Russian dip

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Goa: Anxious about a potential drop in Russian tourists, a mainstay for Goa’s travel and tourism industry, the authorities here are desperately wooing other European markets – and even China – in a bid to make up the numbers.

Among the countries that are in Goa Tourism’s radar are Poland, Holland, Latvia and Kazakhstan for the short-term and the Middle East and Southeast Asian regions for the long term, as the state aims to secure a limited open skies status to facilitate flights from the two regions.

While around 1,000 Latvian tourists are scheduled to visit Goa during the tourist season from October to March, at a do held last month in Kazakhstan’s largest city of Almaty, Indian ambassador Harsh Kumar Jain, invoked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pitch Goa as a tourism destination to around 80 Kazakh travel and tour operators.

“The leaders of both countries confirmed the high importance of tourism during a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Kazakhstan. The heads of our countries have paid special attention to ways and means to strengthen cooperation in this important sector,” Jain also said.

Indian consular offices located in Almaty and the capital Astana process nearly 15,000 visas annually.

Russians top the list of foreign tourist arrivals to Goa’s beaches followed by tourists from Britain, but industry stakeholders have already predicted a dip in the number of Russians this season due to a slowdown in the Russian economy and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

While 985 out of the 1,128 charter flights which landed in Goa during the 2013-14 tourist season were from Russia, in 2014-15 only 813 charters arrived here, of which only 537 were from Russia and carried only 104,890 tourists on board.

“There will be a dip in tourists from Russia, especially because of the economic crisis, tourism operators going bankrupt and the ongoing conflict between Russia and the Ukraine,” said Ekaterina Belyakova, who heads the Russia Information Centre in Goa.

In response, tourism officials here are busy wooing the Commonwealth of Independent States as well as new markets like the Netherlands and Poland.

“We have received a tremendous response from the Polish and Dutch markets. We expect a good number of tourists from these two countries in the coming season,” Goa Tourism Director Ameya Abhyankar told IANS.

In May, Goa hosted travel and tourism industry representatives from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur region to pitch for tourists from the country’s northwest.

Goa is also aspiring to be a transit hub between the Middle East and the Southeast Asian region by lobbying with the union civil aviation ministry to approve a limited open skies policy that allows unlimited air traffic between two nations or clusters of countries.

“We are requesting the union civil aviation ministry to approve the limited open skies policy for the Southeast Asian and the Middle East region. It will help us get traffic from the two regions and promote tourism,” Abhyankar said.

The state attracts nearly three million tourists every year, out of whom half a million are foreigners.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, IANS)

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Facebook’s Push to Become China’s WeChat May Kill it

As people become increasingly aware of social media’s harm, social media will lose its lustre

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FILE - The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

Facebook which accounts for 75 per cent of global ad spend that is likely to hit $110 billion by 2020 is nowhere near an immediate demise and government regulations would only strengthen the social networking giant in the short term, a new Forrester research has forecast.

However, Facebook’s push to become China’s WeChat — more than a messaging app and is full of capabilities to make life easier for its one billion users — would be its undoing.

Facebook‘s no-good-very-bad 2018 may have meant an overworked PR team but the social media behemoth is doing just fine.

It continues to report steady user and revenue growth: a 9 per cent year over year increase in users in Q4 2018 and a 30 per cent increase in revenue in the same time-frame.

“The three parties that could impact Facebook the most — users, brands and regulators — will move too slowly for it to feel any instant impact,” said Jessica Liu, Senior Analyst, Forrester.

The coming years won’t be easier, but the social media behemoth won’t suddenly collapse either, as many predict.

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FILE – The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York’s Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

“But while Facebook’s short-term outlook might be fine, its long-term outlook is bleak,” Liu added

Despite constant negative news last year, Facebook continued to report strong quarter-

over-quarter user and revenue growth. Brands that mishandle their own users’ data and fail to inform them typically falter.

While these users and advertisers could affect change at the social media giant immediately, they won’t, thus allowing it to continue to defy the odds.

“Enacting and enforcing regulation takes so long that Facebook will be able to shore up its assets and unique advantages in the short term and eliminate any vulnerabilities before serious user, advertiser, or regulatory changes materialize,” Liu emphasised.

The social networking giant with over two billion users globally, is facing regulatory challenges as the Cambridge Analytica scandal has exposed its lapses of data privacy and security.

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FILE – A man poses for a photo in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences in San Francisco, California, March 26, 2018. VOA

The downfall for Facebook, said Liu, would come with its desire to build an all-inclusive social media experience, as its CEO mark Zuckerberg is planning to merge all apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram into one.

“Facebook’s hope to recreate WeChat, China’s largest messaging app turned all-in-one portal

to the Internet, presents long-term challenges,” Liu added.

WeChat primarily operates in a single country’s political and regulatory environment.

Also Read: South Korean Tech Giant Samsung Launches 2 New Tablets in India

“Facebook will need to tack on products and services to fulfill its one-app vision while global regulators threaten antitrust. It will also grapple with protecting user privacy globally while appeasing advertiser appetite for hypertargeting,” Liu noted.

As people become increasingly aware of social media’s harm, social media will lose its lustre.

“History has taught us that existing apps max out and then decline as users tire of the services or the company (like AOL, MySpace, Friendster). The Facebook app is already experiencing this; Instagram and WhatsApp will follow in a natural peak and then eventually decelerate, too,” Liu commented. (IANS)