Goa might lose its glory

Panaji: The tourism industry here feels that Goa will lose its position as the most preferred holiday destination to competitors, if it does not market itself aggressively on a global level.

Manguirish Pai Raikar, chief of Goa chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) said the competition in the region is growing manifold. "If Goa needs to be on the radar of foreign tourists, we need to create a space for them," he said hinting at providing alternatives like hinterlands.

Goa has been receiving four lakh foreign tourists annually, of which 40 per cent are repeat clienteles, the industry players say. With the traditional markets like the UK shrinking, the state is finding solace in the form of Russians, who crossed half a lakh mark during last tourist season.

Raikar said South Asian countries, which are competitive tourist destinations, are trying to woo visitors, who have been traditionally coming to Goa. "We need to provide them a different profile so that they come here time and again," he said.

The GCCI chief said that the Goa International Travel Mart (GITM), a three day event which starts tomorrow, is happening at a right time when industry needs to fortify its marketing strategies.

The state tourism industry has now decided to diversify from its conventional beach tourism, which has been nurtured around the 105-km long coastline, with two dozen famous beaches.

Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Goa Chief Ralf D`Souza said the Goa tourism industry cannot be lethargic in its promotions. "If we are lax then we are in for a big surprise and that will be a shock," D`Souza, a hotel owner himself, said.
The state government representatives said attempts are being made to have a network of states on the western coast so that the joint promotional strategies can be worked out.

Goa has been receiving 26 lakh tourists, of which four lakh are foreigners. The industry is continuosly reeling under the fears of global economic crisis and other domestic issues like safety concerns for visitors.

Also, Goa needs to regulate its off-shore casinos so that they don`t hurt the sensibilities of the locals, which is required for the sustainable tourism, a senior government official said. R K Verma, Principal Secretary (Tourism), said off shore casinos in the state needs to be regulated as per the wishes of the people.

"There are all kind of requirements for the tourism industry that we need to take into consideration. If casinos are offending sensibilities of the people, we need to regulate them," Verma said told reporters here.

The off shore casinos in the state have been receiving opposition from local groups, especially women organisations, who say that Casino promotions do not gel well with the promotion of Goa as a family destination.

The Goa government has been toying up with the idea of forming Gaming Commission in the state to regulate the on-shore and off shore casinos in the state.
The tourist state is the only destination where casinos mounted on the ships are permitted.