Drishti Marine is responsible for garbage management, beach and marine safety and rescue services across all the beaches of Goa. It has recently inaugurated an Airport Ferry Terminal (AFT) at Baina Beach, Vasco and has started operating passenger boats between Baina, Panaji, Old Goa and Sinquerim. NT BUZZ speaks to CEO of Drishti Marine, Ravi Shankar, for more details
SACHI NAIK | NT BUZZ
As a coastal state, Goa has the advantage of marine transport. Tapping into this is the enterprise Drishti Marine in collaboration with Mormugao Port Trust (MPT), Vasco who has taken note of Goa’s potential in marine tourism. A newly constructed Airport Ferry Terminal (AFT) at Baina beach, Vasco was recently inaugurated with Drishti’s inland ferry services. The inaugural plaque was unveiled by Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, Nitin Gadkari in the presence of other dignitaries including state ministers, officials from MPT and Drishti Marine.
Drishti Marine operates passenger ferries on behalf of the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) and has undertaken this project and constructed the modern, environmental friendly floating jetty and terminal at Baina beach maintaining all the guidelines by CRZ. Interestingly this entire setup can be dismantled. The AFT is located 5 kilometres from the Dabolim airport. The ferry service is aimed at adding yet another layer of quality experience that tourists visiting the coastal state, as well as locals, can avail of when they want to travel leisurely to their destination from or to the airport from across Goa.
CEO of Drishti Marine, Ravi Shankar shared that the experience of working on this project was positive because of the active participation of the state government and state administration. “MPT collaborated with us very well. So unlike my pre-assumed notions that there will be constant hurdles, dealing with multiple stakeholders during this project, the experience was constructive.”
Outreach manager, Drishti Marine Apoorv Naik informs that there are two phases. ‘Phase One’ is currently operational and it includes ferry services shuttling between the AFT Baina, Vasco, Captain of Ports (COP) – Panaji and Sinquerim. ‘Phase Two’ will begin at a later stage and will include Old Goa, Baga, Mobor and Palolem.
At the moment the 30-seater catamaran is operational and travels to AFT Baina and Captain of Ports Panaji. Ravi mentions that a 40-seater catamaran will be operational in the immediate future that will travel from AFT, Baina beach to Panaji on high speed and will reach in around 35 minutes.
Fares for the ferry service range from `100 for a ride between Old Goa and Panaji to `800 for a journey between the AFT, Baina beach and Panaji. The fares mentioned include the charges for shuttle services. Apoorv adds: “The shuttle service is a pick-up and drop facility for passengers from Dabolim airport to AFT and vice versa. It is included in the ticket fair.”
It is obvious that waterways can deliver a less stressful journey avoiding the pollution and traffic jams on roads. Passengers can travel safely without being bothered by honking noises. It is a suitable journey for tourists who want to travel from airport to Panaji as they can enjoy the views on their 45-minute journey from the airport to Panaji.
Ravi opines that Goa is being overused as a beach and party hub and that needs to be changed. “From a tourism perspective, you have to extract ample amount of wallet share from the tourists visiting Goa. However, unless you offer good tourism products, people would not like to spend money. The more products you offer including water sports, inland tourism and marine tourism, higher the benefits to the state economy will be. We have introduced a hybrid commuter module that can be used leisurely by tourists or any Goan who has his family or friends visiting Goa.”
Trying to make the beaches more attractive, the Drishti team is trying their best to leave no stone unturned. Littering a place is a non-cognizable offence; this means that a person cannot be fined for littering or misbehaving on the beaches. Ravi says: “We can only request and inform passengers on the jetty not to litter the sea and beach during their journey. However, if the state government considers, they can implement a fine for this transgression.”
Team Drishti takes all the measures to keep visitors informed about beach cleanliness by conducting brief programs or interacting with visitors on the location. Their lifeguards make the public aware to not litter the beaches, but at time they have faced communication barriers, due to which sometimes visitors do not cooperate.
Drishti Marine has plans of connecting all major tourist destinations and beaches in Goa with similar state-of-the-art jetties with additional routes to Aguada in North Goa; while the trips to Chapora, Mobor and Palolem in South will be operational in a few months.
Besides purchasing a ticket at the ticket counter at AFT Baina, tickets for the ferry services can be booked online through an easy user-friendly portal www.drishtiferry.com.
Drishti Marine is responsible for the garbage management, beach and marine safety and rescue services across all the beaches of Goa, on behalf of the Department of Tourism, Government of Goa. It employs over 600 lifeguards to provide services across every single beach stretch of Goa and internal water bodies of Dudhsagar and Mayem Lake. All of Drishti’s lifeguards are trained and certified by the Special Rescue Training Academy, an internationally accredited training agency.
The company also operates a beach safety patrol providing beach marshals from sunset till midnight. Since 2008, Drishti Marine lifeguards have saved over 3000 lives due to intervention rescue operations reducing deaths on Goa’s beaches by 99 per cent. Over the years, the company has built on diversified interests across marine tourism, information technology and sustainability.
Soon, Baina beach will be transformed into a composite hub as per the information given by Ravi. He adds: “Making this a composite hub is our aim, where people can visit the place, spend a day, enjoy boat rides and water sports. We are planning to set up a small restaurant here, infrastructure for water sports that will directly be managed by Aquatic Sports Company. Drishti will however focus only on the ferry transport arena. This terminal will soon have swimming pool, showers and a play station for children, making it their vacation a fun experience.”