Some of the legislators belonging to the ruling camp have rejected Tourism Minister Manohar Azgaonkar’s ideas on tourism master plan and tourism policy. The legislators, who attended a presentation organised by Azgaonkar’s ministry, have found that the ideas were not in sync with the “essential features” of Goa. The legislators also expressed shock on being informed by the Tourism Minister that the tourism master plan has been in operation implemented since 2016! This ‘revelation’ by the Tourism Minister was indeed shocking to everyone as his ministry had maintained so far that a master plan was in the making! The Tourism Minister himself had told the Assembly in August last year that the tourism master plan was still in the making and would be finalized in four months. The government had thereafter sought suggestions from the public with regards to fourth module of the tourism master plan. According to the last announcement made by the Tourism Minister the tourism master plan was to be finalized and put into operation before the next tourist season began in October 2019. How could the master plan be already operational when the process of its preparation still continues?
The Tourism Minister should stop acting in an irrational and casual manner as though he is obsessed with an agenda of his own and is totally disconnected with the affairs of his own ministry. With the stakeholders, legislators and concerned citizens opposed to incongruous features of the proposals of the tourism master plan, the process of its finalization could take longer. The legislators who attended Thursday’s presentation have gone to the extent of alleging that the draft tourism master plan and policy being prepared by KPMG Advisory Services was a “cut and paste job” with content lifted from the internet. Besides, the proposals were not in sync with the ground realities of Goa. The Tourism Minister must order an investigation into the allegation and if the consultation firm has really done a cut and paste job and without a study of Goa’s ground realities, he should recover the money already paid to the firm and withhold any amount that remains to be paid.
The Tourism Minister has to take the legislators, stakeholders and citizens on board to frame a good, relevant and workable master plan and policy. He has not met the tourism industry representatives since he became tourism minister. He also needs to realize that just preparing a master plan and policy would not take tourism ahead. The consultancy firm has given three modules of the tourism master plan and the process for the fourth one is under process. However, since it has been in making for a long time many of the ideas planned some years ago might need to be given a relook as many things might have changed since the modules were conceived. There is too much disorder, sloth and lack of focus in the tourism ministry. Little seems to be working to make the visit of the tourists interesting and pleasurable. Regulation and discipline are missing. The tourism ministry’s talk of targeting high-end tourists will forever remain an empty talk because the tourism infrastructure is very poor and there are no special features for that bracket of tourists. High spending tourists would at least like to see the roads smooth to travel and beaches clean. Even these two basic comforts are missing, thanks to the indifference of the tourism department.
The Tourism Minister needs to give a wider publicity to the draft of tourism master plan and tourism policy in order to get suggestions from stakeholders and public afresh before the two documents are given a final shape. Necessary changes sought by the legislators, stakeholders and general public should be incorporated to pave way for their smooth implementation. Tourism has emerged as an important generator of state revenue and incomes for a large number of Goans over the years. The master plan and policy must guarantee growth of tourism in a sustainable manner. They should show a way how the abilities and arts of the Goan people are fully exploited to give them a higher income and better lives. There are many areas that are overexploited in Goa and there are others that are underexploited or not exploited at all. If the consultation firm making the tourism master plan is divorced from the ground realities, it should be asked to revise the draft or another firm should be appointed to make a plan. Any master plan and policy has to take into account the culture, heritage and lifestyle of the people and at the same time ensure that the state’s natural beauty and environment are not harmed.