Japanese aid sought for tourism infrastructure

| 15 December 1996 23:27 IST

Seeking financial assistance from Japan, the tourist state of Goa is planning to improve its infrastructure for sustainable tourism development, with a plan to implement it during the ninth five year plan, if the proposal materialises.

The Goa government is planning to put forward the project report of infrastructural development before the OECF, Japan once again, says Deputy chief minister Dr Wilfred de Souza, who is also the tourism minister, though the earlier proposal had not materialised.

A plan worth Rs 110 crore had been submitted to the OECF in 1991, which included road network, augmentation of water supply to tourist places and underground waster water disposal system in the coastal belt. As 77 per cent of hotels are situated along the 105 km-long coastline, the authorities posed it as an environment project.

The project reports are being updated now, says Dr de Souza, with an improvement of road network of 90 kms along the prime coastland from North to South and 70 km-long link roads to the beaches. The road improvement itself would cost around Rs 66 crore while other two reports are also being updated, he adds.

The government, on the other hand, has also floated tenders for 125 km-long four-lane superhighway, from North to South as well as from the Western ghats to the coastland, a project worth Rs 1000 crore, on BOT basis.

Though private companies have not responded very enthusiastically to it, Chief Minister Pratapsing Rane is firm on going ahead with the superhighway. It is however still not known whether it would have linkage from the neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

International airport is another necessity the state is trying hard for, as Goa is presently managing with a small air port at Dabolim, shared with the Naval authorities. While around 2.5 lakh foreign tourists visit the state every year, the tourism department estimates a rise of additional one lakh by end of the century.

It includes large number of charter tourists flying down directly from over 18 different countries, with UK topping the list. But the number of charter flights seems to be declining every year due to irritating landing facilities.

According to U D Kamat, Director of Tourism, the state received only 64 charter flights in last two months, against 70 flying down directly to Goa last year during October and November. The number of charter tourists however has increased from 16,655 to 18117, a rise of 8.8 per cent, he adds.

In order to arrest the problem immediately, Civil Aviation Minister C M Ibrahim is planning to personally visit the state along with a high power committee, after the ongoing Parliament session, to prepare the final plan for the civil air port.

Meanwhile, the tourism department is planning to extend its river cruise service to other parts than Panaji, realising the response it has been receiving from tourists of all kind. While government and private cruises already operate in Mandovi river in Panaji, it has decided to start it in Sal river in the South, for the benefit of over 10 five star hotels situated there.

The department is also buying a 24 mt-long twin hull catamaran with a fibre glass body, worth Rs 1.21 crore, with a capacity of 200 passengers. The central government would share half of its cost, said Mr Kamat.

Hill tourism along the Sahyadri ghats is another aspect being explored by the state authorities. The department is developing a plateau, with an area of 8000 sq mts of flat land at Keri-Surla, as a hill resort.

While half of the area on the hillock at the height of 2500 mts would be the reserved forest, it would also consist of a guest house, modern facilities in the form of billiard indoor games, bar and restaurant as well as a cable car, says Mr Kamat.

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