Foreign tours is a waste : CAG

| 21 July 2000 22:49 IST

Goa is an international tourist destination for the people from all over the World. But for the local rulers, tourism is a hen that fetches golden eggs - to roam all over the world, at the cost of public exchequer.

This is what the Comptroller and Auditor General of India trying to say, though not in those many words, when it states that 'promotional visits' of the state officials abroad had no impact on arrival of foreign tourists in Goa.

As per the figures provided by the CAG in a report ending 1999, the tourism department spent Rs 1.15 crore during four years, from 1994-95 to 1998-99, for various international tours for promoting tourism in Goa.

In fact many politicians fight for the tourism portfolio here as it provides an opportunity to visit places like UK and Germany, along with their family members, in the name of the World Tourism Marts held there by spending public money.

Even the chief ministers do not leave the opportunity making foreign trips during their short tenures. In fact a delegation of hordes of officials led by chief minister Francisco Sardinha and tourism minister Victoria Fernandes recently made a trip to Kathmandu, to 'attract those tourists here'.

But the results shown in the CAG report are enough to open eyes of the public as the growth rate of foreign tourists is declining very fast. The rise of 55 per cent (4.31 lakh) in 1992 has declined to mere 5 per cent (13,000) in 1998.

The figures provided by the department for 1999 amply proves that the trend is declining further. Only 9251 more foreign tourists have arrived than the previous year, stooping the growth rate to mere 3 per cent. Goa today approximately receives around 2.84 lakh foreign tourists.

While Britishers and Germans comprise main chunk of foreigners visiting the coastal paradise, number of UK tourists has declined from 59 per cent to 32 per cent from 1994 to 1999. Similarly, the German inflow has declined from 12 to 10 per cent.

The CAG has even refused to accept reasons like world wide recession and stiff competition faced from the neighbouring states as well as neighbouring countries, cited for the decline by the state government.

"No adequate attempts were initiated by the state government to develop infrastructure", states the report, while recommending aggressive marketing, strengthening of the monitoring system and conducting pre-feasibility study of infrastructural facilities.

The CAG has also blamed the state-run Goa Tourism Development Corporation for not adopting commercial approach and poor maintenance of the infrastructure at its tourist hostels located at strategic tourist points along the coastal belt as well as in the hinterland.

On the contrary, it has noted that the GTDC also spent over Rs 12 lakh in three years for participating in six fairs abroad, but without even devising or offering any concrete plan or a package for the foreign tourists.

As a result, state the official figures, the occupancy of foreign tourists declined from 1.29 per cent to mere 0.93 per cent from 1996 to 1998 in contrast to the fact that number of foreign tourists increased from 2.37 lakh to 2.75 lakh. Similar is the case of domestic tourists.

The reason, according to the CAG, are many including shortage of water supply, cheap accommodation available elsewhere and non-congenial atmosphere due to menace of water logging and even stray cattle.

The CAG has also expressed surprise that the GTDC till date has not even formulated medium term or long term strategy for fetching greater share of tourist business or not even evolving a system for obtaining feedback on customer satisfaction.

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