From ‘Go Goa’ to ‘No Goa’ and Goa’s pursuit to turn things back
A course correction in enroute Goa's way but long way before Goa can be called the 'favourite destination'
‘Go Goa’ started trending long before the age Twitter and Instagram. Goa was always ‘the destination’ to Indians and to an extent for the global tourists as well. Everyone wanted a piece of Goa perched in their memory; its vibe and warmth to be bottled and taken home with. So, when did things went kaput for them! Though mixed reviews and survey do put Goa in the top Indian destinations, the situation doesn’t seem to be favourable.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is said to have admitted in one of his media interactions that the ongoing tourism season has witnessed a slowdown in the number of tourist arrivals. Goa Port Minister Michael Lobo honestly admitted the same when he was quoted saying, “We must have done something wrong for foreign tourists to give the coastal state a miss this year. They are going to other places. We need to study it and implement new rules so that tourists don't go back with bad memories.”
Goa’s plunging tourist rate resulted in it not finding a top place in many of the global survey conducted. For instance, Goa, which was traditionally a popular destination for foreign visitors, is conspicuously absent from the Top Ten list for 2019 by the Booking.com, one of the world’s top accommodation booking websites.
Top 3 major things not in favour of Goa
The moment implementing CAA became a wildfire news, protests have become a common feature across the subcontinent. India’s tourism industry is one of the worst affected. As Goa saw the repercussions of the protests firsthand, foreign nationals sent warning signals to foreigners travelling to India; especially avoiding states affected by the protest and that includes Goa. Due to the protests, foreign nationals are apprehensive about visiting the country amid tensions and possible riots.
Frequent power cuts
Constantly failing to improve power supply in the coastal belt is a concern that has been prevailing since the past many years. This issue has been affecting the entire tourist belt. There is a strong need to analyse the reasons for the state going through a bad patch. Apart from that, interrupted power supply is causing the hotel industry along the coastal belt to bleed as they are forced to use generators for nearly six to seven hours.
Political protests over water dispute with Karnataka could further hurt state’s tourism. Goa and Karnataka are presently locked in what’s almost a war for copyright over its water. The opposition for the project aimed at diverting water from the Mahadayi river to Karnataka and the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa feels it will further ‘dissuade tourists from visiting the state’. This atmosphere of protests is sure to dissuade the foreign tourists from visiting goa, so fears the hoteliers.
The on-going revamping!
New state tourism policy
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced that the new State Tourism Policy, which will help the government push for systematic development of the sector, will be implemented from the next tourism season onwards, which begins in October. Speaking during the launch of India’s first in-car magazine “Travel Miles”, the Chief Minister said “The policy document has been submitted to me for finalisation. We will take all the stakeholders into confidence, before finalising it.” The policy, that recommends the formation of a tourism board, will focus on infrastructure, development, marketing and tourism promotion initiatives.
Eco-tourism: Bird tourism
Bird festival will definitely boost eco tourism in the state’s hinterland. Goa’s Chief Minister recently announced that hinterland and bird tourism with 450-species strong bird diversity will be promoted in the state on big scale. He informed that the Forest Department will provide a platform for naturalists, experts, forest officers, bird photographers to meet and share their insights, this will open new vistas for ecotourism in Goa’s hinterland.
International airport at Mopa
In a recent announcement, aviation consultancy firm CAPA confirmed that Goa’s second international airport will be built in Mopa in the next three years span. The upcoming international airport will be spread across 232 acre of land and will have a capacity to handle 30 million passengers annually.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had announced that with the electrification of the Konkan railway route and newer areas in the state of Goa would be connected by the Indian Railways network. According to the Railway Minister, the beauty of Goa can be enjoyed by tourists and other travelers while they travel by train.
Though the reasons for the decline in tourist rates are many, some of them political too, the Goa government needs to take immediate action to stop the state’s decline in tourism. Regulating the tourism industry is the utmost need of the hour, if it wants to salvage the fortunes of the sector and Goa’s main employment source.