Growth rate of tourism on a decline

| 09 February 1997 23:22 IST

Goa may be hit badly with a recession in the tourism sector, the state's second-largest foreign exchange earner, as the number of foreign tourists is declining at a fast rate.

Admitting the fact, the local Congress government is now chalking out a new tourism policy in order to attract 'high quality' tourists from all over the World.

The recent peak season, from November to January, was an eye opener in this respect. Though the local authorities are not releasing the official figures, hoteliers admit that it proved to be a slack season in terms of foreign as well as the domestic inflow.

State tourism director U D Kamat hesitantly admits that the number of domestic tourists was down by two per cent while it was five per cent in case of the foreign tourists. The number of charter flights coming to Goa has also been reducing, he adds.

In an attempt to justify the changing scenario, Goa's deputy chief minister Dr Wilfed de Souza, who is also the tourism minister, claims that it is due to the change in tourism policy which aims at reducing the number and increasing the quality.

But hardly any changes have taken place in its tourism policy, while rooms were available during the Christmas time in five star hotels like Taj Aguagda Beach Resorts as well as in the smaller lodges and one-room guest houses available in the coastal area, unlike in the past.

The prime reason for it seems to be the increasing greed of Goans combined with political favouritism resulting into beaches getting crowded with shacks all over it, unhygeinic expensive food and accommodation and free hand given by the authorities for drug trade and other illegal activities.

As a result, even charter tourists seems to be landing in Goa, to proceed to southern states like Kerala, their upcoming favourite destination. Though prohibition of liquor is a major handicap in the states like Kerala, food and accommodation is found to be cheaper and qualitative there.

''We don't want such cheap tourists. Let them go to the South'', quips de Souza. He is seen stressing more upon providing proper infrastructure to the high quality tourists with international airport, superhighways, widening of the existing road network along the coastline and water and drainage system.

The Goa government's new tourism policy is also aimed at providing golf courses, amusement centres, offshore casinos and promotion of water sports and adventure tourism. Converting historical forts into resorts is also the part of developing heritage tourism, states de Souza.

While few private firms have started new activities like para-sailing and scuba diving, the Taj Group of Hotels is setting up a yoga centre, amusement park and a golf course to attract high quality tourists to the state. Hotel chains like Hilton and Radisson have also shown interest in Goa, he claims.

But hardly any efforts seems to have been made by the authorities to provide proper facilities to the middle class and upper middle class domestic tourists, the number of which is still around 80 per cent in the state. The reduced number of such tourists for Carnival this month is a clear indication in this direction. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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