Experts want touts out, influencers reined in for Goa to become tourism capital

Panaji, Dec 24: With Union Minister Nitin Gadkari expressing confidence that Goa can become the country’s tourism capital, tourism stakeholders are of the opinion that more infrastructure should be created and the menace of touts should be eradicated.

Speaking at the inauguration of the second phase of the parallel cable-stayed bridge on the Zuari River, Gadkari had said that Goa can become the tourism capital of India as people are attracted to this tourism state.

“Many foreign tourists come to Goa every year. Hence facilities like hotels, restaurants and parking spaces, should be created. Need to appoint a consultant to study these works. If we create these facilities Goa will be strong with the economy and youths will get employment,” he said.

He also urged to connect Mopa airports with water transport.

The minister also laid the foundation stone for observatory towers and a viewing gallery at the new Zuari bridge.

Nitin Gadkari said that the observatory towers and viewing galleries, featuring 125-metre-high tourist observatory towers, a revolving restaurant and an art gallery could become the attraction for tourism in the coastal state.

“This could be like the Eiffel tower in Paris. Central government will help Goa in all ways to go ahead. I will be happy when the tourist observatory tower is ready,” he said.

Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) President Nilesh Shah, speaking to IANS, said that Goa could become national capital of tourism, provided more facilities are created and touts menace is eradicated.

“We need to give better facilities to the tourists coming down to Goa. When we speak of promoting eco-tourism or hinterland tourism we need to have ‘app’ based taxi services so the tourist can opt for reasonable prices. It is the need of the hour,” he said.

Speaking about the touts menace, Shah said that not only on the beaches but they are found even in capital city Panaji and other places where tourism activities take place. “They spoil the name of Goa. Action should be taken against them and the ‘dadagiri’ they do,” Shah said.

Shah said, charter flights have started to arrive in Goa and tourism season is peaking. “Compared to last year it was a bit slow, but it seems it will peak now,” Shah said.

He said that the tourists should go back home with good memories, only then they will prefer to come again. “We want tourists who behave well and know their responsibility when they arrive here,” he said.

One shack owner from North Goa also said that touts have become a major problem in the tourism area and action should be taken against them. “They are spoiling the name of Goa by taking extra money from the tourists and there are many incidents where they are involved in assaulting tourists. This should be stopped,” shack owner said.

Police sources informed that this year around 700 touts were booked, which is double than the last year. “We have made a database of the touts, we book them and see that they don’t involve again in the same illegal business,” police said, adding these touts are natives of other states.

Speaking about the action against the touts and social media influencers, Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte said that attempts are being made by social media influencers to defame Goa, and hence the government is seeking legal opinion to act against them.

“Social influencers are trying to tell how Goan tourism is wrong. It looks like a proper strategy by some people to come here and defame Goa. We are trying to take legal advice to act on such things,” Khaunte said.

He said that the social media influencers should use the medium for better purposes and not to defame anyone.

“Influencers should use social media platforms for good things, and wrong things should be brought to the notice of the government. We are there for corrections. But defaming Goa will not be tolerated,” he said.

Khaunte said that all the efforts are being taken to give better facilities to the tourists and the government is also acting against touts, who create nuisance in the tourism area.

He said that action on illegal touts is going on and compared to last year, double the touts are booked.

“Police are taking action against them. We have to ensure that illegal touts go out of the system. Once they get out then dance bars and prostitution will automatically close. Touts are creating problems as they are involved in such illegal business,” Khaunte said.

Last tourism season, Khaunte had directed the officials to take action against the touts to give a safe environment to tourists visiting the state, and later action against touts was taken.

“Illegal activities spoil Goa’s name. Be it dance bars, prostitution, drugs or other things, these things should be cleansed along with touts,” he said.