The Akhil Gomantak Mahasangh Vikas Samaj Sanghatana has lodged a complaint with the state office of the Election Commission of India (ECI) against president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) Savio Messias, stating that he is trying to instigate Tourism Minister Manohar ‘Babu’ Ajgaonkar into violating the model code of conduct for the benefit of certain section of society. The NGO has further demanded strict action against Messias for the same.
The TTAG president, however, refuted the charge and said that his statement as regards need on the part of the tourism department to write to the ECI, for requesting relaxation in the restrictions imposed by the ECI over local tourism activities, in view of the model code of conduct, was non-political in nature. “My statement was aimed towards the interest of the stakeholders in the tourism sector, and had nothing to do with any political issue,” he clarified.
Speaking further, Messias said that the Akhil Gomantak Mahasangh Vikas Samaj Sanghatana, which was prompt in lodging a complaint with the state office of the CEO, should now show such promptness in opposing all the ongoing irregularities in the tourism department as well as the Goa Tourism Development Corporation. “I would be more than happy if this body along with the TTAG, works towards bringing discipline and accountability in the tourism department and the GTDC,” he retorted.
It may be recalled that the TTAG, in the past, had written an official letter to the then chief minister Manohar Parrikar on April 21, 2018 alleging that the authorities at the highest position in the tourism department are on “a collection drive” and collecting a lot of money for registration of new hotels as well as renewal of hotel registration. “The percentage collected from event contractors has gone up to 30 per cent,” the letter had stated, pointing out, “Rampant corruption is going on in the ministry.”
Incidentally, the Akhil Gomantak Mahasangh Vikas Samaj Sanghatana, in its letter to the state office of the CEO has also stated that “Goa has received many awards for excellence in tourism, in last two years since Ajgaonkar took over the tourism portfolio, which is a testimony to his hard work and efforts.” “It may be noted that Ajgaonkar is a member of Scheduled Caste community and is always a law-abiding person,” the letter has further added.
Reacting to the awards received by the tourism department, the TTAG chief said that such awards do not always guarantee or reflect the achievements of the tourism department. “Frankly speaking, I don’t believe in most of these awards,” he observed, pointing out, “Most of these awards depend on how you bid for them.”
“There are in fact two types of awards, one for which you bid, with some people expert in such bidding, while the others depending on voting,” Messias stated, mentioning that many a times such voting is requested online as well as on social media by the agencies desiring to win them.
“I have been demanding relaxation in tourism activities for my tourism fraternity, and I would continue doing it, whether there are elections or not,” he concluded.
It may be noted that there has been a sharp fall in the arrival of domestic as well as foreign tourists in Goa, during the last two years, besides substantial cancellations of chartered flights, continuing illegalities on beaches, and failure of government to resolve beach cleaning problem, which form major issues affecting the tourism industry, in turn, exposing gross failure of the tourism department.