Saturday , 26 May 2018

Goa’s nautical tourism in choppy waters

CII-Goa organised a nautical tourism conference on March 18 to promote a sector loaded with potential

A panel discussion for promoting nautical tourism in Goa, has given the thumbs down to large marina projects that disturb locals and cause public agitations. Instead small boating stations that require less investment and are not ecologically damaging has been recommended for the sector.

Panelists suggested that, small boating stations be constructed along river banks and they must be run by locals. “Such kind of small boating stations that accommodate eight-ten boats require reasonable infrastructure and are economically viable. It can easily be operated by individuals residing in nearby locality and is viable and profitable,” it was pointed out.

Pertinent suggestions made for development of nautical tourism is conversion of unused mining and barge jetties into tourism jetties. The usage of discarded jetties would go a long way towards circuit tourism along inland rivers. “Circuit tourism ties in with the ministry of shipping’s Sagar Mala Project that aims to link waterways in the country,” pointed out participants.

Another suggestion is on registration of vessels. Although the state government has the power to make the rules for registration of vessels it does not do so in the absence of experts for formulation of the rules. Panelists recommend using services of retired marines for formulation of rules and urgent framing of it.

The CII-Goa organised a nautical tourism conference on March 18 to promote a sector loaded with potential. Thanks to lack of government initiative marine tourism in Goa is largely under- tapped. Currently a hotchpotch of tourist activities is carried out in beaches and near the coastline but it is largely because of private initiative and because of the state’s natural advantages.

According to CII, “nautical tourism is a key trend gaining popularity in the tourism sector both in terms of scope and economic contribution. Goa has 105 km of beautiful coastline and more than 255 km of navigable waterways. Being a popular destination for domestic as well international tourists, significant potential for development of the sector exists in Goa.”

The conference was aimed at government bodies and local regulatory authorities, private investors, boat owners, operators, industry consultants and students. Goa has an established marine industry that includes shipyards and boat building companies which are an integral part of marine tourism.

Thanks to strategic location Goa has a small sailing and yachting community. The Mandovi river regularly has foreign sailing boats and yachts anchored in it. The state also plays host to sailing events.

The conference was organized in sessions with Atrey Sawant, chairman, CII-Goa, delivering the opening address. Hemant Arondekar, managing director, Pinakin Construction, during the inaugural session underlined the already existing services provided by marinas in Goa. “It just needs to be recognized, developed and promoted well,” he said. He also added that, nautical tourism would create various job opportunities for the unemployed youth and generate revenues to the state.

Boat builder, Ratnakar S Dandekar, managing director, Aquarius Shipyards, spoke of manufacturing yachts while Michael Derrett, industry expert, gave the international perspective.

Derrett pointed out that, nautical tourism has several benefits but stakeholders would have “to prove its economic case,” to get government support. “Around 10 per cent of the boat value goes downstream into hotels, restaurants, etc.”  A consultant to several marina projects, Derrett, pointed out that, marinas create jobs and “one marina creates jobs for at least 90 people.”

Session two had a panel discussion on pleasure craft regulation conducted by Gautama Datta, director, Marine Solutions, Vijay Arora, joint managing director, Indian Registrar of Shipping,  Capt. James Braganza. Post the discussion several members of the audience complained of lack of clarity in rules for registration of vessels. They said that, vessels are frequently stopped by Marine Guards and Coastal Police for inspection of identity papers.

The concluding session had a panel discussion on developing nautical tourism in Goa. Nikhil Desai, managing director, GTDC was the moderator while panelists were Bosco George, superintendent of police, Savio Messias, president, TTAG, RAdm Mounty Khanna, Ashim Mongia, managing director, West Coast Marine, Col Milind Prabhu, president, Goa Yachting Association, Ashwin Tombat, director, Adventure Breaks and Charmaine Pereira, managing director, Sahasea.

Dessai said that stakeholders meeting with government will be held in April to brainstorm on the Sagarmala Scheme. The discussion revealed that, international sailors are eager to anchor in  Goa while navigating between countries. However lack of berthing facilities makes them set anchor in Dubai and Gulf countries. Consequently the state is losing out on revenues.

Later speaking to the media, Messias said that, nautical tourism has plenty of scope but it needs facilities. “If facilities such as jetties, boat parking stations are not created the sector will not take off,” he said.

The CII conference on nautical tourism is the second after a period of two years. The first conference was held in January 2015 in association with KPMG wherein it was decided to prepare a master plan to develop the sector.” However the master plan was never prepared and  hardly any progress was made on the front.

Cruise ships are a part of nautical tourism and the numbers of ship arrivals have been increasing over the years. But it was disclosed that MPT does not have sufficient infrastructure for berthing of cruise liners. “Cruise ships that are docked in MPT get very muddy and require gallons of water to wash,” pointed out Messias.

Marinas, jetties, floating pontoons are some of the physical infrastructure necessary for nautical tourism, the conference pointed out.  Nautical tourism in Goa is developed only in certain types like jet-skiing and para-sailing. However there are other kinds of nautical sports such as sailing, back water boat rides, point-to-point boat rides kayaking, etc. that are undeveloped. “Kayaking is a huge draw among tourists internationally and it can easily be promoted in Goa,” said Tombat.

The CII conference attracted close to 100 key industry stakeholders on a single platform to interact with policy makers on the recently notified regulations for pleasure crafts in India. The discussions addressed the need for the government to harness the potential of nautical tourism.

RAdm Shekhar Mittal (Retd), vice chairman, CII Goa and CMD, Goa Shipyard, who arrived in the second session gave the vote of thanks.

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