Tourists say No to casinos

| 27 September 2000 22:30 IST

Contrary to the much hype being created by the ruling politicians that Goa badly needs full-fledged casinos and golf courses to attract high spending tourists, the official study reveals otherwise.

"Casino did not generate much enthusiasm among domestic and foreign tourists. The same goes true for golf courses", states the interim report on Tourism Master Plan being prepared by Delhi-based Consulting Engineering Services (India) Ltd, appointed by the state government.

Chief minister Francisco Sardinha had stated last month that setting up of offshore casinos (if not on land) and golf courses is unavoidable since it has been a demand from the high end tourists, desiring to visit Goa.

The Focussed Group Research study, which researched high end tourists to obtain their views on the type and nature of facilities they desired, however expressed strong need for 'some kind of night life in Goa, of course within the limit of social norms and acceptance'.

In view of this, the CES has suggested Light & Sound shows at heritage places, cultural shows of Goan art and music, night river cruises having on-board bar and dinner buffets, floating restaurants coupled with cultural shows, late night leisure walk facility along Mandovi riverfront in Panaji and organising evening city tours.

Rather than asking for casinos and golf courses, maximum number of tourists have preferred water sports - 45 per cent domestic and 40 per cent foreign tourists, besides equally large number of tourists asking for adventure sports and amusement parks.

The CES thus suggests opening up Great Island (opposite Vasco beach) for developing amusement park while also proposing adventure activities like trekking, para-gliding, nature walk, bungee jumping etc in the hilly terrain of Western Ghats.

In order to avoid crowding of tourists, the agency proposes to evenly disperse the water sports activities in the north and the south, inclusive of events like para-sailing, scuba diving. snorkelling, yachting, river rafting, water scooter driving, sea surfing etc.

While also recommending for a 'safari tour' especially in the monsoon season in the reserved forests of Bondla wild life and Saleem Ali bird sanctuary in a specially designed glass-fitted coaches, the CES proposes only one golf course, preferably near Panaji.

The experts firm has also made several suggestions to control beach pollution, prominent among which is removal of all shacks and hotel construction violating the coastal zone regulation. As an alternative, it suggests conversion of existing shacks into well-designed old Goan village model, to be run by the villagers.

The other suggestions obviously include banning of use of plastic bags and eating of foods on the beach while enforcing penalty for violation. Plantation of palm trees at 50 metres from the high tide line mark and beyond for a depth of 100 metres is also being proposed.

Stating that 60 per cent foreigners have demanded for a sea resort, the agency proposes it at Morjim, away from the famous coastal belt from Calangute to Anjuna. It also suggests budget hotels in the hinterland, a demand of around 60 per cent Indian tourists, besides high class exclusive Goan restaurants and Chinese restaurants.

They have also focussed carefully on improving transportation system, with proposals like late night bus service, air-conditioned coaches for sight seeing as well as round-the-clock landing facility for charter flights.

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