As Goa recently celebrated the World Tourism Day, it also bagged the National Tourism Award for the second consecutive year from the Union Ministry of Tourism. NT BUZZ speaks to the Minister for Tourism, Manohar Ajgaonkar to know more about the new initiatives to promote tourism in the state
VENITA GOMES| NT BUZZ
Goa has been a sought-after tourist destination since the 70’s. And while tourism forms the backbone of the economy, several issues have interfered with the way tourism related activities are conducted. Issues like security, infrastructure and better facilities need to be given a serious thought. Most of the development works and projects are underway.
The central government under Swadesh Darshan sanctioned `1200 crore for development of beaches, rivers as tourist spots and Goa received the highest payout of around `200 crore during financial years 2016-17 and 2017-18 to develop its beaches.
Minister for Tourism, Manohar Ajgaonkar speaks about how they plan on disbursing these funds. He says: “We plan on investing on infrastructure projects like public toilets, changing rooms and lockers, parking facilities, illumination, tourist information centres and much more under the scheme across all the beaches of Goa.”
Also, development work like making beaches disabled-friendly also can be done with these funds. “We are working step-by-step to utilise the funds. In phase I, we will work on development of beaches like Anjuna and Morjim Khind and other beaches. The Mayem Lake development work is also part of the project and will attract large number of tourists,” adds Ajgaonkar.
Planning and setting up of a museum at Aguada is currently underway and will be completed shortly.
In phase II, tourism department will undertaken project in tourist spots like Dona Paula, Colva, Benaulim and make arrangements for facilitation centres, toilets, mobile toilets, bamboo gazebos, drinking water cabins, solid waste management and beach cleaning equipment, solar lighting, GIS mapping, provision of CCTVs, WIFI facilities, rescue boats, water scooters, Rua de Ourem creek development, installation of high mast lamps and signage.
Ajgaonkar mentions that most of the work has already begun and he is hopeful that it will be completed soon.
Adopting digital medium
Going digital is the next big thing, making its way into the lives of the common man. Most of the government departments are choosing digital medium as part of the Prime Ministers Digital India initiative. The department has also taken various steps like going online through its websites, booking reservations, e-commerce portal, app based taxi service, digitalising its services for registration and renewal of licenses of tourism trades and more.
“Goa Tourism through the GTDC has launched an e-commerce portal and mobile application on android and iOS platforms to provide tourists a digital experience of Goa. Through the web portal viewers are able to browse through various options ranging from holiday packages, travel itineraries, hotel bookings to sight-seeing, adventure trips, spice gardens, water parks, and dolphin trips among others. The web portal has been further updated with a 12 hour call centre,” mentions Ajgaonkar.
The recently launched app-based taxi service GOAMILES to make travel within Goa comfortable and cheap faced criticism and complaints. Several commuters expressed their unhappiness towards the app. Ajgaonkar says: “Commuters are facing few problems because this is just the initial stage and we are yet to reach the threshold as we are operating with a limited fleet of taxis at present. Having said that we would be adding more vehicles by October and are confident of reaching the 1,000 vehicles mark by the time the tourist season picks up.”
Since its launch in August, approximately 1,800 to 1,900 booking requests are received everyday and more than 50,000 people have downloaded the app both on android and iOS.
More coming soon
Budgetary allotment of `219.53 crore’s have been made for the tourism department this year for work in areas of tourist safety and security; cleanliness and hygiene on the beaches; beach patrolling; CCTVs and surveillance systems, marketing and promotion of Goa tourism in national and international destinations.