Millennium begins downward trend in tourism

| 14 February 2000 22:55 IST

Will the new millennium set a downward trend for Goa, which was promoted as one of the favourite tourist destination in the World this year ?

At least the official figures create a scare, though the industry still hopes to fair well next season. The local government, on the other hand, simply refuses to analyse the disturbing trend.

"We have no sustained culture of governance here for the last one decade. People in power are seen going for short-term gains, at the cost of future of the tourism industry", complains Kirit Maganlal, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa.

Goa has witnessed 12 governments in just 10 years since 1990, with almost every new government having a different tourism minister. As a result, the draft tourism master plan is still being prepared, with no problem being confronted with a concrete solution.

"Dirty beaches, roads with potholes, water shortage and lack of sewerage are the major problems facing the tourism industry in terms of infrastructure", admits tourism minister Victoria Fernandes, like all her predecessors. But hardly anything is being planned to arrest the problems.

S S Keshkamat, a new director of tourism, prefers to project rosy picture of growth in the industry rather than admitting the decline and finding solutions to overcome it. "We received over 16,000 more tourists and 10 more charter flights this year", he states.

But the figures of three prime months of the peak season from October to December indicate that the growth is hardly two per cent this year, in spite of projecting Goa as the millennium favourite. Including foreign and domestic tourists, Goa received only 8732 more tourists.

Among the 4969 more foreign tourists visiting the coastal state during the peak season include almost 3346 charter tourists, who are considered to be of no use to the trade and industry here since they do not spend much.

Even the trend among the domestic tourists was not as enthusiastic as expected, state the figures which indicate only 3763 more tourists visiting the Goan beaches in three prime months, though special flights and railways were arranged this time for the millennium celebrations.

"It was a millennium mega flop. But I admit that our industry was primarily responsible for it. Let us hope we learn from it and create an atmosphere so that tourist comes down to Goa with no tension", comments Maganlal.

The prime reason for the flop was the artificial hype created by travel agents that all rooms are already booked during the millennium celebrations, so that they could overcharge heavily. But it boomeranged as most of the tourists preferred not to take risk by visiting Goa, leaving rooms vacant on the night of 31 December.

"But Goa is a favourite destination even otherwise. I think we will get more tourists next year without any hype", hopes Maganlal. But he admits that the industry is equally disturbed with the increasing decline in the growth rate every year, which has now reached down to only two per cent.

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