MICHAEL F SALDANHA, MUMBAI
I am a senior High Court retired judge and had visited Goa recently. On my visit I found that there was a lot of concern about the fact that tourism in the state seems to have hit a slowdown. Tourism is a very crucial source of revenue and it is important to ensure that it is promoted and enhanced. To start with, the airport which is virtually the only entry point worth mentioning has always been a major problem. The airport was renovated and expanded a few years back but it is hopelessly inadequate to handle the volume of air passengers. The place is unbearably congested and the whole of the infrastructure is in a complete mess. There is zero traffic management and commuting is a major problem. Even if bridges and flyovers have to be constructed, with efficient management, there is no reason why delays and bottlenecks should handicap movement. More importantly, the airport at Dabolim is in an unholy mess. It takes 30-40 minutes to get the baggage screened, an equal or longer amount of time for the check-in, even longer for the security check and I have known atleast a dozen people who have missed their flights because of this state of affairs. There is zero police presence at the airport and not one responsible officer to redress even serious grievances. Three days back when I finally flew out of Goa at 2 am, on a domestic flight to Mumbai, after a delay of two and a half hours, I met atleast a hundred well-placed persons mainly tourists from other parts of the world as also from our own country, all of whom vowed that they would never come here again and that they would spread the word around. Coming back to the airport, the boarding of the aircraft is at the ground level. The planning is totally inverted with passengers having to move 2 -3 levels up for the remaining formalities and then walk down all the way back to the aircraft. The departure area presents the worst problem. The seating is hopelessly inadequate. The facilities for food and drink are totally absent and if one is tired, the only option is to sit or sleep on the bare floor.