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3-4 million global pilgrims to attend St Xavier’s exposition

CANSAULIM: Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture (independent charge) Shripad Naik Monday said that the Centre is expecting around 30-40 lakh pilgrims from all over the world for the exposition of the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier in Goa.
Speaking on the sidelines of an interactive programme organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) national committee on tourism at Cansaulim, Naik said that the Centre has already started preparations for the decennial event and significant action has been taken with regard to the publicity and branding for the exposition, which will be held from November onwards.
Stating that the Centre has promoted the exposition in the Lusophone countries and other target nations like Russia, England and Israel, Naik said that the Union government will provide the state government with all the required funds to hold the decennial event. He, however, said that at present the state has not come up with any requirement. “However, the Centre will provide full support to the state government,” he said and added that it is upto the state government organising committee to seek funds for the event and that the Centre will provide the same as per the requirement for publicity etc. Special arrangements will also be made for chartered flights to fly pilgrims from across the world, said Naik.
The minister said on Monday that the Centre will be implementing the electronic travel authorisation and the e-visa will be shortly introduced in Goa in a phased manner, along with eight other airports in the country.
Naik said that in a bid to position India as a global brand and to take advantage of the rapidly increasing global travel trade and the vast untapped potential of the country as a destination and to make travel hassle-free and user friendly, the government is introducing e-visa facility in a phased manner. He said that this will prove to be a game changer for the tourism industry, which will attract a large number of foreign tourists.
Naik said that the government is making positive changes to turn the country into a preferred tourist destination and also making efforts to strengthen and diversify the tourism economy. He said that the ministry of tourism has identified 50 circuits for development which include construction of passenger terminal at the Mormugao Port Trust to promote cruise tourism. He also said that strategies have been finalised for integrated development of Buddhist circuit and development of Varanasi ghats. Besides, budgetary allocation of Rs 500 crore has been made for five tourist circuits, around specific themes, and an allocation of Rs 100 crore for national mission on pilgrimage rejuvenation and spiritual augmentation drive has also been made.
Naik said that the tourism ministry has sanctioned Rs 12.5 crore as the first installment to Railways for modernisation of 24 railway stations as Railways form the backbone of domestic travel. The Union Minister of State also said that the Centre has proposed to develop and augment air connectivity and has planned new airports in tier I and tier II cities located in tourist circuits. Naik also said that in its first 100 days, the Union government has come up with a mobile application called ‘incredible India mobile app,’ which will assist international and domestic tourists in accessing information about various services on tourism.
Replying to a query, Naik said that the Centre will move a petition before the Supreme Court to review the sound ban after 10 pm, especially in tourist destinations like Goa. He said that the Centre will try to create zones and extend the time limit for sound ban until 12 am.
While replying to another query, he said that the recent statements made by MLAs on bikinis and pub culture will not have any bearing on the tourist arrival in the state as they are the views of individuals and not of the government. He, however, said that such statements should be
avoided.
Reacting to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call on Independence Day for an initiative on school toilets for girls, the CII on Monday adopted four areas across the country including Goa for the programme. The programme was announced in the presence of the Union Minister of State, with CII’s Arun Sharma adopting Goa for the programme.

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