Party capital tag not helping Goa tourism: White Paper

Party capital tag not helping Goa tourism: White Paper
Highlights

Brand Goa needs reinvention and the tag 'party capital' is simply not a good enough calling card, says a white paper prepared by local tourism and travel industry stakeholders

Brand Goa needs reinvention and the tag 'party capital' is simply not a good enough calling card, says a white paper prepared by local tourism and travel industry stakeholders, which cites harassment by traffic police, taxi operators, touts and lack of infrastructure, public transport and garbage management as problem areas for promotion of quality tourism.

The white paper "Reinvent Goa", drafted after numerous consultative sessions by the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, one of the oldest industry bodies, also says that the recent imbalance of domestic tourists far outnumbering foreign tourist arrivals, an unfair tax regime, delay in permissions and high visa fees need to be looked into by the state and central governments.

"Taxi fare pricing is non-transparent. Efforts to streamline the trade are hampered by interference from politicians who treat them as a vote-bank.

Taxi business is a cash-only affair, which leads to loss of revenue for the government," says the white paper, claiming that taxi drivers were intimidating and exploitative and needed to rid themselves of the 'taxi mafia' tag.

The white paper was drafted with inputs from stakeholders, after a dip in tourist arrival figures over the last couple of years triggered panic in the industry and the government.

It was submitted to Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on Thursday.

The white paper calls for strict action against dumping of garbage.

The paper also calls for setting up of a State Tourism Board with both private and government representatives to help streamline permissions and eliminate overt political interference in tourism administration.

The white paper also demands a comprehensive survey to determine the carrying capacity of Goa's beaches and tourist locations, while also urging state and central governments to rationalise the visa fee and tax structure on the lines of Thailand and Sri Lanka to ensure affordability for visiting tourists.

The report also highlights poor policing as a key reason behind the tourism dip, blaming the absence of a tourist helpline to check unabated harassment.

"There are unlimited touts at every point of sale of any tourism activity, leading to harassment of the tourist... Tourists are constantly harassed by police, especially traffic personnel," it says.

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