Notwithstanding the inherent advantages, the potential of nautical or marine tourism in the state is largely untapped. Here Hemant Arondekar, convenor, task force on nautical tourism, CII- Goa, speaks on range of issues. He discloses to Shoma Patnaik, that, things are still in the first gear for the sector
- For the last three years CII- Goa has been holding nautical tourism conferences. So how much of progress has this segment made?
The progress is in terms of awareness. I would say that awareness has improved between the stakeholders. Today the government is more aware that this segment will get in better quality of tourists. So they are including nautical tourism in the tourism master plan and are in the discussion mode. On the ground things are moving slowly but on the other hand the center is giving a big push to cruise terminals and jetties. So we have succeeded in creating awareness on both sides. Stakeholders have realized that rules have to be followed and the government is receptive. But we still have a long way to go. We are still in first gear and will hopefully move forward in coming years.
- How much of nautical tourist activities do we currently have?
Currently the sector is restricted to water sports and cruise ships coming to the MPT. In water sports we are doing quite well but again it needs regulation and to be raised to global standards. In cruise liners about 30-35 cruise ships come to the MPT every year. It is up to us to take things forward to include other segments like yachts, sailing boats, etc.
- Are the regulations in place for the sector to develop?
No lot needs to be done. The different departments that are involved in the industry, such as customs, coastal police, captain of port need synergy. Currently the departments are not in sync so when sailing boats arrive they have to go to different departments for permissions. Nautical tourism is ultimately a touristy activity. A traveler does not have the time to go to different departments. He neds a single window. The tourism department should take the lead in converging the different departments because the benefit is to it. The state has one cost registration policy for all vessels. High value ships can afford the registration but single kayaks or sailing boats that are valued at Rs 30,000- Rs 40,000 find the cost structure unaffordable.
- What physical infrastructure does the industry need?
It needs adequate docking stations and parking bays where sailors can alight and re-boat. The docking stations need to have the right amenities.
- Does the infrastructure involve large capital investment?
Yes any infrastructure requires investment. But it all depends on the scale and the quantity of tourists coming in. One can have a 10-yard docking station for a big ship or small station for number of yachts. Floating jetties do not need much of capital investment
- Last can Goa become a thriving nautical tourism destination?
Definitely it can. While sailing down the west coast one cannot avoid Goa. So the state becomes a natural marine hub. That Goa is a tourist destination the whole world knows. Marine tourism is nothing but tourists coming in by boats. It brings in higher value tourists as has been proven in the world. The profile of marine tourists globally is high-value. There are about 3,000 boats sailing between Europe and South East Asia. So if we even get five per cent of the traffic it would mean about 100-150 boats coming to Goa every year. That would really change our tourism profile for the better.