Goa's ambitious master plan moots new tourism concepts
Sandesh Prabhudesai in Panaji
The much-awaited Goa tourism master plan envisages investment of nearly Rs 60 billion over the next two decades, with thrust on development of infrastructure, introduction of new tourism concepts and diversion from beach tourism.
Efforts would be made to attract visitors to eco-tourism, adventure tourism and areas like business, sports, education and places of cultural and religious importance.
The plan, prepared by Delhi-based Consulting Engineering Services (India) Ltd, will be now tabled in the Assembly during monsoon session.
The government will prepare a final tourism policy after the House approves it.
The master plan also suggests introduction of aggressive marketing strategies by portraying a favourable, but realistic, image of the state.
An investment of Rs 57.24 billion is proposed in the next two decades for sustainable development of this tiny coastal state.
The World Tourism Organisation estimates 1.6 billion international tourists in the world in 2020, compared to 0.57 billion in 1995. South Asia, however, is expected to attract only 0.2 billion, though it is five times more than 1995.
Pointing out that India is expected to fuel 4.5 times growth in international tourists arrival between 1995 and 2020, the master plan said that a projection of tourist arrival in Goa indicated that it could be around 2.7 million in 2021, including 9,76,000 foreign tourists.
However, the number of domestic tourists by 2021 could be around 1.73 million which is 63.97 per cent of the expected total tourist arrivals by 2021.
As per the proposed investment plan, Rs 22.33 billion have to be sought from the Centre as grants, Rs 6.57 billion from the state's own exchequer and the remaining Rs 28.34 billion from the financial institutions as assistance over a period of two decades.
The projects of airport development, golf course, leisure city, sea resort, floating restaurants and sea cruises, water park and development of artisan village cum craft park are suggested to be started through private participation at an estimated cost of Rs 6.59 billion.
Need to develop hinterland areas too
Referring to diversion in tourist activity, the master plan said that though the beaches and costal areas would continue to dominate tourism activities due to their inherent attraction, the opinion survey of tourists, tour operators, travel agents and others indicated that the hinterland areas have sufficient potential to divert tourists to them, the report added.
Pointing out that at present these potential areas have limited tourism-based activities and offer little in terms of variety of recreation, the master plan suggested creation of a major water sports activity centre with adventure sports like inland water rafting, yachting and snorkeling, scuba diving, and trekking in the forest areas of the western ghats.
Golf courses, resorts, amusement parks….
The tourism master plan also suggests the setting up of two golf courses, seven resorts, four food parks, few recreational and amusement parks and more offshore casinos.
The plan suggests that six new tourist centres, slightly away from Goa's golden beaches, be developed.
This includes business-cum-recreational centre near Panaji, water sports centre near river Chapora in North Goa, a techno-recreational centre near Margao, a leisure city in Canacona taluka, a health tourism center near Selaulim dam and an eco-tourism centre near the Bondla wild life sanctuary.
A major 18-hole golf course will be part of the proposed leisure city near the Canacona railway station, besides a 50-room sea resort as well as craft bazar and food park, along the western national highway.
Eco-tourism, health tourism to get thrust
A techno-recreational centre would come up near Margao housing a science city, an amusement park and a food park. The Selaulim dam area is proposed to be developed as a health tourism centre, with a nature park, a botanical garden, a health resort and a state-of-the-art hospital with 300 beds.
The Bondla sanctuary is being planned to be developed as a eco-tourism centre, by also building eco-friendly rest houses and specialised food restaurants, besides a resort. Wildlife safari through the reserve forest would be its prime attraction.
The water park project along the banks of river Chapora, flowing through interior villages near famous beaches of Calangute, Baga, etc, is proposed to be equipped also with a food park and a water sports training centre-cum-hostel.
The business-cum-recreational centre near Panaji, however, is a huge project. It is to house a business-cum-convention centre, a small golf course with clubs and restaurants, a floating restaurant, artisans' village-cum-craft park, a shopping centre, a recreational centre with bowling alley, billiards room, cyber cafe and Cineplex as well as a craft bazar and food park on the lines of Delhi's Dilli Haat.
Adventure and educational tourism to take off, too
Besides these six projects, the master plan also proposes setting up of top educational centres for business management, information technology, hotel and travel management. This effort is aimed at promoting educational tourism.
In order to promote discovery and adventure tourism, the plan suggests cycling, skating, jogging, trekking, boating, fishing and even underwater sea exploration, scuba diving and snorkelling by exploiting irrigation reservoirs, rivers as well as Goa's famous hills like Vagheri, Chandranath, Siddhnath and Chorle.
Late evening recreation is also being focussed upon with light and sound shows at heritage places, cultural shows of Goan art and music, a river cruise, evening city tours and late night leisure walks at the riverfront of Mandovi in Panaji.
The plan also hints at more offshore casinos and proposes to develop amusement parks like Esselworld, nature parks, coastal pleasure trips, package tour at Grand Island, wood gardens and even aquarium and snake garden like in Bombay and Madras.
Besides, it also proposed the concept of 'village tourism' by creating an ideal village with artisans solely for tourism purposes and stressed the need for introduction of luxury trains like palace on wheels.
The visits to ancestral Goa houses should be included in the itineraries, the report suggested.
The master plan, which is likely to be discussed in the state legislative assembly during its monsoon session beginning on July 5, stresses development and improvement of road and water transport on a large scale to access the far flung areas.
Improvement in infrastructure a must
For infrastructure development, the master plan suggests improvement of road transport with a conceptual road network, utilizing water transport, late-hour buses at 11 pm, round-the-clock service at Dabolim air port, improvement of water and power supply and better attention to solid waste management.
The plan also suggests to the government to support tourism by granting it a full-fledged industry status on the lines of export-oriented industry, control mechanism to check overcharging by hotels and tour operators and setting up of a high power tourism promotion commission.
The commission, to be headed by the chief minister or the tourism minister, should primarily monitor activities of forecasting, planning, development and marketing on the lines of California Tourism Development Commission,
suggests the master plan.
Besides, it also has recommended steps to improve water and power supply and called for better attention to solid waste management system.
The master plan has also recommended late evening river cruises which could have on board bar and dinner arrangements and cultural shows.
To control beach and estuarine pollution such as oil slick from barges and motorised boats and dumping of mine waste and excess catch by large trawlers on estuaries and creeks, plantation of coconut and other trees in relation to high tide line and banning the use of plastic bags and other such disposable items should be made mandatory.
Suggesting an institutional mechanism for implementation of tourism plans, the master plan said tourism being one of the most important economic sectors of the state, its forecasting, planning, development and marketing should be placed at a higher level of decision making.
Also tourism professionals and tourism industry should be involved representing its diverse segments.
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