Like every year, this year too, the Goa Tourism Department is set to welcome tourists from across the world in the state that is no stranger to the tourism market, the Tourism and IT Minister of Goa, Rohan Khaunte asserted.
However, despite the state welcoming over 7.12 million people in 2022 which is approximately a good number for a relatively small Indian state, the challenges of room availability arising with the huge surge of tourists, still remains a hurdle, Khaunte pointed out.
“We understand that the influx of tourists needs certain infrastructure and Goa is currently on a war footing. Having accurate benefits as a part of Swadesh Darshan 1.0, we already have the basic infrastructure in place. One key challenge for the future that we have identified is of the room availability,” the minister stated.
“This, I hope, will be mitigated with the upcoming inventory of new four and five star hotels that are almost on the completion stage in the state,” he added.
Khaunte shared that redeveloping the Goa Tourism Development Corporation residences to a four star or higher category through public private partnerships is being looked at. He said that the state government has already started to lease out the assets of the tourism department to suitable private entities.
In addition, building of homestay clusters, especially in the hinterland, is also bookmarked in the development agenda, informed Khaunte.
He further emphasised that the state will be rolling out the homestay policy and the caravan policy later this month. These policies, with benefits and incentives to be unveiled post launch, will help the state in adopting a sustainable and immersive model of going beyond the beaches, the minister shared. “Our focus going ahead will be on increasing quality tourism over quantity which will eventually help us attract high-end travellers to the state,” the minister underlined.
Khaunte was speaking during a press conference organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Goa in Delhi where he also spoke at length about the tourism department’s other initiatives. Emphasising the state’s renewed focus on newer segments like spiritual tourism, Khaunte referred to the state as “Dakshin Kashi”.
“Goa has a long interesting story when it comes to culture, heritage and spirituality. In furtherance to our efforts towards these particular segments, Goa tourism is leading the redevelopment of temples and creating and promoting spiritual tourism circuits. This year, as a part of the centre’s PRASHAD scheme, we are undertaking a INR 40 Crore plus project at Basilica of Bom Jesus in preparation of the 2024 exposition,” he informed.
Speaking about Goa being well connected to the other Indian states, Khaunte acknowledged that Delhi and the neighboring regions have always been the primary domestic source markets. “Corporate honchos from Delhi and Gurugram have found a second home in Goa, which now, due to easy connectivity has become their first home,” he said.
Goa with the focus on domestic traveller is now exploring interstate circuits similar to the concept of the Golden Triangle, highlighted Khaunte.
“Goa is now even better connected to the rest of India and international markets through the opening of Manohar International Airport. The state is blessed to have two working international airports that makes it easy for anyone to fly in and out depending whether you plan to stay in the north or south. These airports greatly contribute to the Prime Minister’s vision of the Dekho Apna Desh as well as in boosting regional connectivity,” the minister underlined.
Acknowledging that Goa was one of the fastest states to recover post the travel ban was lifted, Khaunte mentioned that ease of doing business in Goa has greatly streamlined with the registration process for tourism activities, which has witnessed a 1000 per cent plus spike in registrations from August 2022 to January 2023, as compared to the last previous six months. This will continue in a positive direction, he said.
Other than this, the Goa Tourism Department is also looking forward to a surge in tourism with the launch of the new Helipad. The Tourism department has launched a new helipad service that has been set up in Dauje, Ella and Old Goa in partnership with Soaring Aerospace.
Also, this year, while organising the upcoming Goa Carnaval 2023 from February 18 to 21 the state will see the first ever participation of helicopters and floats in the river Mandovi.