Tourism, without a doubt, has been one of the primary revenue generating sectors for Goa. Making consistent strides to facilitate better tourism experiences in the state with innovative technologies while upping the game, Goa Tourism Department had recently partnered with the government of Portugal for collaborating for ideas to build demand for Goa from Portugal.
Sharing further, Tourism & ITE&C Minister Rohan Khaunte in conversation with ETTravelWorld said that the state government is exploring similar partnership plans with other countries in the near future.
“We have been working with both the government and private sector of various countries such as Portugal, Germany, and Russia to enhance the tourism industry in Goa. These partnerships will be instrumental in developing world-class infrastructure, amenities, and experiences for visitors to our beautiful state,” said Khaunte.
“We believe that these partnerships will help us develop innovative and sustainable tourism products and services that will attract a diverse range of visitors to Goa,” he added.
Pivoting from his recent meeting with the officials of the Portuguese government earlier this month, Khaunte asserted that the conversations are ongoing in the right direction with respect to knowledge and cultural exchange. This, he said, is encouraging the tourism department to explore similar partnership plans with other countries in the near future.
“We are always open to knowledge sharing and interactions with other countries that have evolved their tourism models and bring in investments,” the minister stated.
“We are committed to working with our partners in the private sector and governments of other countries to ensure that we provide visitors with unforgettable experiences that showcase the natural beauty, culture, and heritage of our state,” Khaunte added.
Responsible, quality tourism on the top of mind:
In his recent address during the 1st Edition of Economic Times Travel and Tourism Conclave, Khaunte had mentioned Goa’s intention going forward is to attract ‘quality footfall with high spending’ to ensure there is a harmony between tourism and the local life.
“I strongly believe that the quality of tourists is of utmost importance to ensure the well-being and peace of our local communities. While we welcome visitors from all over the world to our beautiful state, we recognise the importance of responsible tourism practices that prioritise the needs and interests of our residents,” Khaunte emphasised.
“The Government of Goa recognises the importance of sustainable tourism and is committed to ensuring healthy tourism growth. We are working towards establishing models of dispersed tourism to address issues of over tourism and a dedicated tourist police force to address unruly behaviour,” Khaunte stressed.
“We are also working with stakeholders and communities to promote responsible tourism,” he added.
Khaunte also condemned the recent incident in Anjuna where the tourists were manhandled by the local hotel staff after an argument. “We are taking measures with the relevant authorities to address the incident and to ensure safety for tourists and locals. We remain committed to promoting sustainable tourism and protecting our heritage while ensuring a safe experience for visitors to Goa,” he said.
To ensure that the state brings in the tourists who respect local customs and culture, and are mindful of their impact on the environment and local communities, the state government is working to promote responsible tourism, said Khaunte. The tourism department is also focusing on raising awareness among tourists about respecting local customs and being mindful of their impact on our communities so that they contribute positively to the sustainable growth of the state’s tourism industry.
Policies, hinterland tourism projects in the pipeline:
To cater to the emerging demands for homestays and caravan tourism, the state will soon come up with the policies for both segments. The Homestay and Caravan Policy, said Khaunte, will aim to promote sustainable tourism by encouraging the development of homestays and caravan parks in the state.
The Homestay Policy will allow the individuals and families to register their homes as homestays, and the government will also provide financial and non-financial incentives as well as an opportunity for locals to earn extra income, the minister said.
Earlier in December, the Tourism Department of Goa also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbnb to jointly promote the state as a high-potential tourist destination for the world. The partnership aimed to develop and promote a sustainable tourism ecosystem in Goa while encouraging travel to lesser-known and remote destinations in the state and also to provide support to Goan homestay hosts in delivering quality tourism experiences to guests.
Speaking about the other similar projects, Khaunte said that the first phase of the Mayem beautification project has been successfully completed under the Swadesh Darshan initiative. “This project aims to enhance the tourism potential of Goa by creating world-class infrastructure and amenities for visitors,” he said.
“Moving forward, we are working closely with the centre to get the Swadesh Darshan 2.0 projects on the way, and other projects with a focus on sustainable hinterland tourism. Also there are projects that include the development of eco-tourism destinations, adventure tourism activities, and cultural tourism experiences,” Khaunte said.
These efforts, Khaunte believed, will promote Goa as a top tourist destination and expand the state’s reach to new and emerging markets.
The Caravan Policy on the other hand will offer a unique experience for tourists who wish to travel and stay in caravans in the state of Goa.
“The policies include guidelines for safety and hygiene standards, registration procedures, and tax exemptions to incentivise locals to participate,” informed Khaunte.
These policies, he said, will contribute positively to the growth of the tourism industry in Goa, promote responsible tourism practices, and provide benefits to the local communities for years to come.
Endorsing Goa beyond the beaches
Expressing that the state govt. is consistently working on changing Goa’s perception as a traditional ‘Sun, Sand and Sea’ destination, Khaunte shared that newer avenues are being looked for the year ahead, emphasising on the need to think innovatively to attract a broader range of travellers.
“In 2023, our main emphasis will be on spiritual tourism, with the potential to revive Goa as the Dakshin Kashi it was known for, as well as cultural, eco, wellness and hinterland tourism. We will continue to showcase our rich heritage through festivals, events, and tours, to promote sustainable eco-tourism activities like bird-watching and trekking, and offer wellness experiences such as yoga retreats and spa treatments,” said the Minister.
“These initiatives will diversify our tourism offerings and benefit the local community while preserving our cultural and natural heritage,” he avowed.
Mopa airport, a significant step towards tourism development
Ever since the announcement of operationalising the Manohar International Airport in Mopa created a buzz, the travellers and the state stakeholders had set their high hopes. Acknowledging that the airport has got a ‘positive response’ post commencement, Khaunte shared that the airport has seen a steady increase in passenger traffic since its opening, attracting several airlines to operate flights to and from MIA, connecting it to major cities in India and soon to destinations outside India.
“The new airport is a significant step towards the development of tourism in Goa, with its potential to increase the number of tourists visiting the state and boost the local economy, creating more job opportunities for locals,” the minister added.
“Furthermore, the MIA airport’s construction considered sustainability and minimal environmental impact as the airport has implemented eco-friendly measures and energy-efficient, renewable energy sources,” he said.
The greenfield Manohar International Airport, which is named as a tribute to former Goa Chief Minister (late) Manohar Parrikar, has been built on the theme of sustainable infrastructure and comprises a solar power plant, green buildings, LED lights on the runway, rainwater harvesting, among other such facilities.
The new airport also greatly supports the existing airport in Dabolim in the overall objective of getting more travellers into the state of Goa, Khaunte expressed.
Inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Mopa airport is developed at a cost of around INR 2,870 crores. It has the facility to handle about 40 lakh passengers per year which can be scaled up to INR 3.5 crores in future.