Thursday , 20 February 2020
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Centre for responsible tourism wants 3 months to study draft master plan

PANAJI: The Centre for Responsible Tourism (CRT), Caritas, a public service organisation promoted by Church, on Wednesday, pointed out flaws in the draft Goa tourism master plan and policy, before rejecting it on several counts.

The last date to submit suggestions to the draft master plan is November 11, but the CRT demanded at least three months to study it and come up with suggestions. For better understanding of the plan by the people, the CRT said that it needs to be published in vernacular language and not just English.

The CRT also asked for the draft plan to be circulated in village panchayats for greater awareness on it through gram sabhas. Slamming the condition of word limit of 500 words imposed by the government, the CRT said that there cannot be restrictions to word count in making suggestions.  It also insisted on the draft being published in the state gazette.

Scientist Nandkumar Kamat, Goa University and Antonio Mascarenhas, former scientist, NIO, evaluated the proposed tourism master plan. Both speakers pointed out that the draft report had very less of real information in the form of figures.

“The draft plan says nothing about income from tourism to the state which through RTI sources is around Rs 29,467 crore or around 41.9 per cent of the state GDP. The government fears questions from the people if figures are revealed,” said Kamat.

He added that people are likely to question where the money from tourism goes if the actual earning from the industry to the government is made public. Kamat said that studying the impact of the measures proposed in the draft plan certainly requires more days than given by the government.

Mascarenhas said that the proposed master plan makes no mention of sand dunes, mangroves or ecologically sensitive areas. “Moulds of sand which are less than two meters in height are not considered as sand dunes in the draft when the world knows that they are dunes in embryonic stage,” he pointed out.

The meeting called by the CRT was attended by concerned citizens from all over the state. Activist Sabina Martins, Valmiki Naik, Sotter D’Souza were some of the participants.

Naik said that the proposed master plan has very little of statistics and places too much of importance on casinos. Albertina Almeida, a South Goa resident, said that the proposed plan appears to be a cover-up for what is already decided by the government.  While Serafino, a guest house owner, said that the proposed master plan “smells like another scam.”

The participants said that the draft master plan lays too much emphasis on PPP and profits for private players while the lay people stand to benefit nothing. The plan, although prepared by a professional consultant, KPMG, gives no cost-benefit analysis of various measures, stated the participants.

The tourism department sought suggestions on Module 4, report of the tourism policy and master plan. The policy is uploaded on the department website and open for suggestions from the stakeholders and public.

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