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Goa’s tourism – Uncared & Unattended..

7 years 4 months ago

Year 1992 – A year when Goa started booming with tourism and saw a slew of new small hotels, thanks to the return of several Goans, post the Gulf war. This was the year my job brought me to this beautiful land as manager of a large tourism company.. The charm of this beautiful land, coupled with the prospect of a booming future in tourism led me to stay on and it’s nearly 20 years today that I have happily been a part of this wonderful land and its transformation..
Nearly 20 years later..
Unfortunately whilst the rest of the beach destinations around the world have grown in leaps & bounds, Goa is still pondering over whether to concentrate on beach tourism or hinterland or backwater tourism!!  This coupled with a host of allegations of murders, rapes, drug cartels & Russian mafias!
The number of rooms & room rates have not shown any notable increase over the years, as compared with our competition from beach destinations in the Mediterranean & rest of Asia.. Though the tourism departments blew a loud trumpet in the press on expected increases in arrivals     just before the onset of the season, they have now chosen to stay silent as their predictions have gone for a happy toss! Whilst the world’s tourist hotspots are taking full advantage of the spill over from Egypt, we have lost out on this opportunity as international tour operators cannot offer their guest’s visas on time to switch destinations, whilst we & our government, have not done a thing to benefit, probably not even being aware of the opportunity lost!  Being a charter destination, we need to be on par with the world on simple formalities like visa issuance, for which the local government must take it up with the centre!
Although tourism is one of the state’s largest revenue modules, the powers that be have really not been able to do much, thanks to a perennially inconsistent government, a local Russian Roulette with the tourism ministry & bureaucracy, that leave little room for any form of constant growth..
Whilst states like Kerela have tried eating into this cake, it is the traditional hospitality of the happy Goan people who have kept this machine running the way it is, though there is still a long way to go..
The purpose of this article is not to criticize the authorities, rather to create awareness amongst the very people due to whom this industry has survived.. We have become used to non-functional governments, more occupied with saving itself than being able to truly churn anything productive. Problems like the taxi menace in the south have been going on for over a decade and there is still no permanent solution in sight! And it only gets worse before every election!
We do not have a fire fighting mechanism to counter the disastrous adverse media publicity for everything from rapes to mafias & drugs, things that are often a part of tourism worldwide, but in Goa we allow them to rule our lives & our reputation..
Priding ourselves on having one of the best coastlines in the country, we totally lack any world-class water tourism! There does not even exist a single tourist jetty in the state for water activities & tourists still only have the option of unstable canoes!  It’s practically impossible to get a tourist boat licence (thanks to the anarchic licence raj), but the new mantra is to build marinas costing crores of citizens money!
Goa is a wonderful land, a land that turns around some of the highest number of repeat guests both from India & abroad. Whilst so much effort is given to so many forms of planning from mining to the infamous re-zoning, we are ignoring any sort of planning for this vast industry! We need to have a vision, created by the leaders of the trade, the TTAG, hoteliers etc. for whom this success is more than holding on to a chair.. We need a task force with a plan, a road-map, on where we want to go and how to get there and attain the maximum out of this highly perishable product, which we rightly deserve..
Let us join hands to stem the rot in the system! As a Goa lover, I will be highlighting these various individual issues on a regular basis, that have been strangulating Goa’s tourism, largely due to inconsistency coupled with ignorance and disrespect of the welfare of the state & its happy citizens.. May better sense prevail..
Jai Ho!