Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Aug 15, 2005
Industry & Economy - Tourism
Looking for a big leap in tourism
With the State Government's recent announcements of speeding up of work on Mopa international airport in North Goa, a monorail system to connect north and south Goa and the like are expected to automatically lead to branding and repositioning of Goa in the tourism world.
Backed by a "tourism-friendly" Government, Goa has emerged as an important tourism destination in the country following a positive profile in the form of natural scenic beauty, golden and silvery sands, manmade monuments, springs, lakes and waterfalls.
Traditionally, Goa has primarily been in focus for beach tourism.
The profile is sought to be changed. The Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Wilfred D'Souza, holding environment portfolio and tourism portfolio sees a vast potential for developing various other facets of tourism.
Currently, he is determined to get rid of a monstrous dilapidated vessel - River Princess off the famous Sinquerim beach in North Goa standing as an eyesore for the last five years.
Over a period of time, tourism has emerged as a major economic activity contributing 24.7 per cent to the tertiary sector and 13 per cent to the State's GDP. The direct and indirect employment generated is around 20 per cent. Tourism contributes about $300 million in foreign exchange earnings constituting about 15 per cent of country's foreign exchange earnings.
Goa's seasonal tourist character has changed into all-season tourism. With Tourism Department's sustained international and nationwide campaigns, Goa has established itself as a "365 day-Holiday" destination.
The product too has undergone a tremendous modification with there being space for all, medium budget tourist to the high spender.
Says Mr Sandeep Jacques, Director, Goa Tourism, "Goa received 20.85 lakh domestic tourists and 3.63 lakh foreign tourists last year as against corresponding figures of 17.25 lakh and 3.14 lakh."
The indications of a robust charter season ahead have been given by the recent arrival of a charter flight from Madrid.
It was for the first time in Goa's tourism history that a charter flight has descended on Goa in early August when the State is soaked by monsoon.
Mr Jacques disclosed that as against last seasons' record chartered arrivals 1,58,993 from 690 flights Goa was looking forward to cross over 750 charter flights. "Unlike in the past, when the domestic market came in spells, it is now becoming uniformly spread during the year," says the Director.
The prospects seem to be better as the tourism infrastructure has undergone a big change in last couple of years with some major events such as the Exposition of the relics of St. Francis Xavier and the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in November last.
With the Chief Minister, Mr Pratapsinh Rane's recent indication that the IFFI will be held this year too, tourism is bound to get a major boost.
"Tourism-friendly" governments irrespective of parties in power consistently backed the hospitality industry through rationalisation of luxury and sales tax and extension of luxury tax holiday tariff.
It has helped hotels and resorts to give liberal packages during "off-season". This meant consistent financial support to tourism promotion within as well as outside the country.
Mr Ralph de Souza of Goa Travel and Tourism Association and Chairman of de Souza Group of Hotels admits that most Goan hotels and resorts this year had an average occupancy of over 55 per cent during the monsoons.
The key factor to make Goa more attractive for tourists is apart from people, the USP of Goa is the sound, the music, the rhythm and the smell of Goa and the hoteliers can get together and welcome the tourists with music and garlands at the airport itself, as this would create a good impression.
This can distinguish Goa from any other destination on this planet. Goa is a rare brand of thousands of years of Indian civilisation and 450 years of blend of Portuguese culture packaged and marketed effectively.
Eco-tourism also has a vast potential in Goa especially in the Sahyadri range along the Ghats. Eco-tourism primarily involves and benefits the local community.
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