Sardinha moots core group for tourism plan

| 13 June 2000 22:50 IST

The basic infrastructure is collapsing day by day in Goa – one of the favourite international tourist destination – while local authorities are still busy forming core groups and preparing master plans for the last four years.

The work on second tourism master plan has been lingering on since 1997, awaiting finalisation of the third part of it which contains concrete proposals. In addition, chief minister Francisco Sardinha has now mooted the idea of forming a core group of hoteliers, travel trade and government officials to prepare a white paper.

In view of tourism being declared as an industry from this year, Sardinha convened a meeting last week of persons connected with tourism and travel trade, requesting them to suggest short and long term measures. "All your suggestions will be implemented thoroughly and funds would be provided for it", he assured.

"But he did not even look at the written proposals put forth before him which needed urgent attention", said one hotelier who attended the meeting. Even the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa wonders whether the meeting would ultimately have any outcome.

The TTAG has submitted a memorandum to Sardinha, listing out topmost priorities including environmental upgradation in the coastal areas by inviting global tenders on BOOT basis. Providing basic information facilities at the air ports, railways stations and bus stands in Goa as well as other parts of India and abroad is also on the list.

"We feel the tourism industry is suffering mainly due to lack of infrastructural facilities particularly in coastal areas. In these areas, environmental upgradation is need of the hour', states S V Balaram, the TTAG president.

The tourist inflow has almost doubled in last 15 years, expecting around 14 lakh tourists this year while it was just 7.5 lakh in 1985. Goa still attracts around 80 per cent of domestic tourists which has risen from 6.82 lakh to around 10 lakh today.

The number of foreigners is also swollen from 92,000 to 3.50 lakh in last one and a half decade, though it also shows that Britishers are shying away from the coastal state. From 60 per cent in 1995, it has now reduced to mere 33 per cent.

"We have told the chief minister that the government should undertake projection of Goa's positive image so that high profile tourists visit the coastal state", says Kirit Maganlal, former TTAG president who attended the meeting.

With more emphasis being laid down on lower middle class charter tourists while also encouraging Goa as a land for drugs, rave parties and nude tourism, decent foreigners appears to have been keeping themselves away from the Goan beaches. Around 52 star hotels here thus find mostly domestic occupancy than the foreigners.

Though Sardinha has now assured to make enough funds available to promote the hospitality sector, the roads still get washed away during monsoons while water scarcity, irritating power supply, improper sanitation and beaches full with plastic and other waste is still a challenge, for which no solution is visible in concrete terms.

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