Making Goa safe the cornerstone of new state tourism policy


Panaji, Oct 17
In the backdrop of a perception that tourists, especially foreigners, are unsafe in the coastal state, the Goa Tourism Policy 2020 aims to make it one of the safest destinations in the world.

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The policy -- approved by the state Cabinet this week -- also pitches for diversification of the state's bouquet of tourism offerings spread across 26 circuits, which includes promotion of the state as a culture and heritage tourism destination, while pitching for investments for creation of infrastructure for wedding tourism as well as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism segment.

The tourism policy was put together by KPMG Advisory Services at a one-time cost of Rs 4.99 crore and Rs 8 lakh a month for five years, for the development of four modules related to the policy.

The issue of safety of tourists has assumed prime importance in the state, which has taken the flak for crimes against tourists over the last decade or so.

The coastal state, which is reckoned as one of the leading destinations for beach and nightlife tourism, was ranked by the National Crime Records Bureau at the fourth place vis-a-vis crimes against and by foreigners, who account for nearly half a million of the nearly eight million tourists who visit the state.

In fact, the Bombay High Court bench in Goa in 2017 passed strictures against the Goa Police for shoddiness in dealing with the deaths of 245 foreigners, most of them tourists, in just over a decade.

In the Goa Tourism Policy 2020, one of the stated objectives obviously is to make the state a "safe destination".

"Make Goa one of the safest tourist destinations as per world-class standards" has been listed as one of the cornerstone principles of the policy, along with promotion of sustainable tourism, providing seamless mobility to tourists and giving the visitors a diversified as well as an authentic experience that is uniquely Goan.

The policy has also called for a review of existing legislations dealing with "tourism travel, trade, cuisine, wellness and gaming", along with examining measures for promotion of sustainable, environment-friendly, socially responsible tourism in the state, as well as creation of a single-window system for clearances to facilitate ease of business.

Among the key recommendations are setting up of a Goa Tourism Board with various industry stakeholders on board to take a call on tourism industry-related affairs -- both in short- and long-term -- and standardisation of tourism product offerings.

"There is inconsistency in quality and lack of standardisation in tourism product offerings and services. MICE facilities need to be further developed.... While developing tourism in the state, the focus should be on maintenance of cultural, heritage and natural assets. Moreover, the development of tourism infrastructure should ensure generation of considerable employment in the state," the policy states.

"There is heavy dependence on certain tourist segments, source markets and travel models like charters. While focusing on the core products like beach tourism, culture and heritage tourism, the state should develop diverse tourism offerings like health and wellness tourism, community tourism etc," it adds.