The government announced on Tuesday that the State Tourism Policy would soon be launched, after the former chief minister and the Margao MLA, Digambar Kamat took the Tourism Minister, Dilip Parulekar to task over the foreign junkets of the tourism departments, for holding tourism-related road shows in various countries, further stating that the government has spent over Rs 19 crore on such activities, during past three years.
Stating that such tourism road shows were held in places like Los Angeles, Washington D C, New York, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Nepal among other places, Kamat said that large number of government officers, including members of various committees and even engineers of the department of water resources had been part of these junkets. He further demanded that the Tourism Minister place on the table of the House all the reports prepared by delegations, which had gone on foreign tours of the tourism department.
The Margao MLA, raising a related question during the Question Hour, also asked details about the number of tourists, which had arrived in Goa, from the countries where the Goa tourism road shows were held.
Assuring the House that reports of all foreign tours would be tabled during the ongoing assembly session, Parulekar said that the newly formed civil wing of the department of tourism takes help from the engineers of the department of water resources, for studying the tourism-related infrastructure in the foreign countries.
Speaking further, Kamat enquired about the status of the assurance given by the then chief minister, Manohar Parrikar as regards preparing the State Tourism Policy, and further carrying out the pre-audit of all foreign junket.
In his reply, the Tourism Minister said that a state level marketing committee has carried out the pre-audit of the foreign junkets of the tourism department, while final touches are being given to the State Tourism Policy, which will be finalised and launched soon.
Meanwhile, the Goa Vikas Party legislator, Francisco Mickky Xavier Pacheco grilled the Tourism Minister over the figures provided to the House as regards total number of passengers, who had arrived at the Dabolim Airport, including tourists travelling by International Charter Flights from the year 2012 to 2015.
The Tourism Minister informed that these figures were provided by the Airport Authority of India (AAI), while there is no mechanism with the AAI to segregate tourists as well as non tourists arriving at the airport. “Approximately, 90 per cent of the travellers arriving at the Dabolim Airport are tourists, while the rest are non tourists,” he observed, stating that the state government can confirm figures as regards the tourists arriving in Goa, only from the figures received from the hotel industry in the state.
The AAI figures pointed out that from April 2012 to March 2013 altogether 35,44,359 tourists had arrived at the Dabolim Airport. From April 2013 to March 2014, this number was 38,89,642, from April 2014 to March 2015, the number was 45,14,278, while from April 2015 to November 2015, their number was 31,20,652.
Pacheco, reacting sharply to the information, said that as per his interaction with the AAI officials at the Dabolim Airport, no officials of the tourism department had approached them for co-ordination purpose.
Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte stated that the figures provided by the Tourism Minister are misleading the House.