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Now, registration must for tourism business concerns

Panaji: The online hospitality companies and operators running homestays will have to mandatorily register their premises and business concerns with the government failing which they will be barred from conducting business.

Tourism Minister Manohar Azgaonkar on Tuesday said the government will soon notify rules framed under the amended Goa Registration of Tourist Trade Act 1982 so as to deter bookings in unregistered hotels and rooms through online hospitality companies.

He said the travel agencies operating illegally will also have to register with the government.

He claimed that unregistered hotels, homestays and other premises cater to 35 per cent of the tourists visiting the state every year.

“Online agencies like OYO and others are operating illegally…  We could not act against them as there have been no rules in place. We will soon publish the rules making them mandatorily register their premises (and business concerns). If they fail to do so then they will have to face the music…  we will also seal their premises,” Azgaonkar said while interacting with media persons after chairing a meeting with stakeholders at the Paryatan Bhavan in Panaji. The Tourism Minister said the tourist footfall in Goa this season has been quite similar to that of the last season.

Over 80 lakh domestic tourists have visited the state during this season, while nine lakh foreign tourists came to Goa, which include 91,703 tourists who came via 312 charter flights.

“We will look for various lucrative markets like China, western Europe, South-East Asia. More efforts will be made to attract high-end tourists, both in terms of marketing and ease of doing business in the state,” he explained. 

He said the government will take necessary action against the Drishti Lifesaving if it fails to deploy required manpower to check drowning at beaches.

Taking cognisance on the indiscipline witnessed at the beaches, Azgaonkar said, “A full-fledged ‘tourist police’ force will be set up to prevent drinking on beaches, ensure beach safety and enforce regulations of various tourism policies.”

The state will initiate discussions with airlines for starting direct flights to certain countries, he said, adding that bringing in cruises, and setting up convention centres will be explored to woo high-end tourists.

Minister for Ports Michael Lobo stressed on having at least 300 tourist police to control hawking, touting and prevent drinking at beaches.

The rules, which were notified in August 2019 empowering the enforcement agencies to impose penalties on nuisance makers, have not been implemented in toto.

“The Indian Reserve Battalion does not have powers to penalise anyone; I think the tourist police under the Tourist Trade Act have the powers to initiate action against the illegalities happening on the beach,” Lobo explained.

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