When 27-year-old Harsha Naik from Bicholim would wait for her brother to come home to ask him about his day as a lifeguard, she would enjoy the thrill, risk, respect and responsibility that her brother would get. This inspired her to be one of the first woman lifeguards in Goa. On the other side was 21-year-old Shriya Karekar from Margao, who was getting fascinated with jet skis and her brother’s heroics attempts to save lives that pulled her towards this profession. Both women are currently lifeguards and are a part of the new program - Swim with Lifesavers. ‘We were inspired by our brothers’“The respect that I see my brother getting when he is at the beach is just amazing. He would come home and tell us about how he saved the tourists from drowning, the different measures and precautions he takes. A few weeks after I joined as a lifeguard, I told my father and he was very unhappy about the step I took. My mother is a swimmer and encouraged me to go ahead,” says Harsha. The family is into the business of sweet making and Harsha used to handle this, and there was some initial opposition as she was leaving the family profession. For Shriya this was a cool job to take. “Though the job had its own risks, it had a cool element too. As a kid, I was always fascinated by jet skis and I would go to Colva beach and admire the water sports. Here I can use the jet ski and save someone too - it’s a perfect place for me.” Shriya recently joined the services run by Drishti Marine Lifesavers and is posted at Benaulim beach. ‘As brothers we protect and guide them’“I told Shriya about the responsibilities of the job, you have to be mentally and physically present. If you snooze, you can lose a person to the tide. And I know that my sister is much more responsible than I am and being a swimmer by profession, she was fit for this post. I try to teach her techniques and ideas which she can use on the beach,” says Damodar Karekar, 27, captain administrator, who overlooks Arossim-Baina Beaches. He adds, “I asked my superiors not to post her and me at the same place as there could be misunderstandings created among teammates.”As a lifeguard they have to use various strategies to ensure that people are safe. “Working for around four years, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge how and what to speak to guests. I tell my sister what has to be done even though they are trained. I’ve asked her to be acquainted with the water sports and shack staff. They all help when we are in need. This is what I keep telling Harsha,” says Gautam Gajanan Naik, lifesaver who is currently posted on Baga Beach. ‘Our bros warned us about the tan’ The job comes not with just responsibilities but with a lot of tan, face allergies and other health issues. “When I wanted to join, my brother had told me about the tan and the other skin ailments. Being a student of fashion designing in the past, when I look at myself now, I’ve tanned a lot. But where will I go with all that fairness? I’m happy about what I’m doing. This job has given me a great feeling,” says Shriya. For Harsha - it’s a different deal. “More than me, My sister is concerned about my skin. She takes me to the parlour. But the next day, I’m back on the beach and I tend to get tanned again. Before I used to get scared of rescues, but a year into this, people treat us with a lot of respect,” says Harsha.
Panaji: The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa has welcomed the government’s move to increase floor area ratio (FAR) for three- and four-star hotels along with five-star hotels, but said this should be done with sensitivity to Goa’s ecology. “Instead of illegal extensions, this will bring in more revenue to the government,” TTAG president Nilesh Shah said, adding that overall the proposal looks good on paper, but the association will have to see how it pans out. TTAG had requested that the benefit of additional FAR that was being permitted for five-star hotels be extended to lower category hotels, too, so that “it becomes more rationalised”. “There are many projects coming into Goa and it’s better that the additional FAR is rationalised so that illegalities are curbed and to bring in more revenue to the government.” At the same time, care should be taken to retain Goa’s beauty, Shah said. “Higher FAR cannot be permitted point blank. It must be done with sensitivity to Goa’s environment. Care will have to be taken, especially in congested areas, so see that Goa’s ecosystem is preserved. FAR cannot just be given for the sake of it. Goa’s beauty should be retained,” he said. Smaller hotels were hit badly during the pandemic. “There were takers for five-starred hotels, but not for small hotels. Small hoteliers have not revived completely. We are looking at sustainable tourism today. We see a lot of tourists coming into Goa and, if we want to increase their spending capacity, we need to work. Existing businesses need to be sustained,” he said. Goa has something for everyone—from high spending to low spending tourists—and all the people in the trade need to be sustained along with other verticals of business—tour operators, water sports activities, cruise activities etc, he said. TOI had reported that the town and country planning board on Tuesday decided to increase the FAR for four and five starred hotels from the existing 20 percent to 30 percent in both rural and urban areas.
Panaji: The decision to freeze issuance of new permissions for water sports activities, till fresh guidelines or rules are made applicable, has been taken in view of the rise in the number of operators over the last few years. This sector has remained out of control with most operators operating without paying heed to the tourism department’s instructions. Now the department wants to deal with them with an iron hand, a tourism official said. “There are some beach stretches where about 300 operators operate, causing congestion,” the officer said. With the ports department being the main agency to issue permissions after examining water sports gear, many don’t approach the tourism department even as registration under the Tourist Trade Act is mandatory. “We want to have rules as well as set the carrying capacity of each beach stretch to avoid congestion of operators. While new permissions will not be issued, we want to have everything in order before the next season starts,” he said. Another problem is that operators also do not stick to zones marked for them and encroach upon swim zones exposing swimmers to dangers, he said. Such violations happen particularly at Calangute, Baga, Candolim, Coco beach and Colva. To address the problem of congestion, the department had tried to implement a system to permit operators to operate on rotation basis. However, this did not work as many of the operators have more than two to three gears. Also, most of them have hired people to man their gears as they look after their tourism-related activities. “Most of the shack operators double up as water sports operators and jet skis and other gears bought and registered in the name of their family members,” a tourism stakeholder said. “With so many operators, including those operating illegally, keeping a watch on all of them is not easy,” the stakeholder said.
Calangute: Existing water sports activities will continue till the end of the season according to water sports operators in the Calangute-Candolim tourism hub. Candolim-based water sports operator Seby D’Souza told TOI that the announcement by the tourism minister about “freezing” permissions for water sports activities refers to only new registrations, and none of the ongoing water sports activities will be stopped. A section of the media reported on Tuesday that water sports activities will be stopped. “I had a meeting with the tourism minister yesterday to discuss the new policy for water sports and beach shacks. From what I understand, they want water sports operators to first register with the tourism department and then register with the Captain of Ports (CoP). We explained to him that the CoP has to first certify the fitness of the boats which is the existing system. Under the existing system we don’t register with the tourism department so he wants to change that and bring us under the tourism trade act,” D’Souza, who is the vice-president of the shack owners’ welfare society (SOWS), said. tnn
Panaji: Tourism minister Rohan Khaunte on Monday said that the government has put a freeze on granting of permissions for watersport activities until such time that the entire process is reviewed. Khaunte also said that the government will introduce an integrated plan to ensure clean and safe beaches to attract tourists. To regulate water sport activities, the state government will slightly modify the permissions, the minister said, adding that “new permission for water sport activities will be kept on hold”. Khaunte said that the Captain of Ports gives the no-objection certificate (NOC) for water sports activities without checking whether the tourism department has granted any permission. “After taking permission from the CoP they come to the registration facilitation counter and apply for a NoC and take that and go back, and here it is a mess, and we acknowledge this mess. As of now we are freezing every NoC to be given to water sport activities till such time that we review the whole process. We have spoken to the chief minister,”he said. Khaunte said that the state government will make some changes wherein those involved in tourism activities will have to first take permissions from the tourism department and till then other departments concerned will not be able to grant any permissions. “We will make slight changes on this line, because, otherwise, the tourism department is blamed,” he said. Khaunte said that the state government will shortly launch an app to connect tourists with industry stakeholders. He also said that people are talking about facilities, including toilets and shower rooms among others, on beaches. “Henceforth, instead of calling them toilets we will call them convenience centres. In this convenience centre there will be one tourism department information counter,” he said. Speaking on beach cleaning, Khaunte said, “Beach cleaning is not being done in the manner normal beach cleaning should be done.” Khaunte said that he wants to give a message about clean and safe beaches in Goa. “We have to introduce an integrated module, including surveillance cameras, proper lighting, 24x7 police deployment, and beach cleaning, etc,” he said. Khaunte said that there is a shortage of police personnel deployed on beaches and the tourism department needs to take some people under the integrated plan.
Preeti Jhangiani, who was recently in Goa took some time off for a quick chat with Goa Times. "There is a sense of peace and calm as soon as one lands here. Goa holds a special place in my heart . There are many special memories attached. Earlier when I used to hang out with my gang of friends when I was younger, it was my first taste of freedom and I love the Goan partying scene and Goan food. And now I have so many special holidays with Parvin and with my sons," she says. "We definitely try any new place that comes up for food! And now Goa is like a paradise for food lovers. There are so many different cuisines to try from. Apart from eating we are always on the lookout for secluded beach spots, or new beach cafes and bars. We are total beach bums and love all water sports; and Parvin and I both scuba dive as well. We come here atleast 2-3 times every year, but beach evenings when the water is calm are the best," she says. On the work front, she is shooting for her next feature film.
Staff ReporterMargaoFishermen have raised objection to the plan to set up a floating jetty at the Benaulim beach “as it will be detrimental” to the sources of livelihood of the people involved in traditional occupations in the area including shack owners, taxi drivers and water sports operators.Earlier last week, fishermen operating off the Benaulim-Vadi beach were surprised to find CRZ officials along with representatives of the Drishti company inspecting and demarcating an area on the beach.“We are traditional fishermen operating along this entire beach stretch. Drishti company along with CRZ officials came to inspect and marked the area to have a floating jetty. The plan is to ferry guests who land directly at the Vasco airport to the coastal belt via Baina beach. For this they want to build a jetty, but it will be bad for all the people on the coastal stretch who are doing traditional occupations,” said fisherman Pele Fernandes.He further said that taxi drivers who are already facing issues will be completely destroyed if hotels use the floating jetty to ferry guests instead of their vehicles. Similarly, he said, traditional fishermen or ramponkars will have little to no space to catch fish in the sea, park their boats or even dry their nets.“We want the tourism minister and the chief minister to scrap this plan, if not we will take to the streets along with the taxi drivers, fishermen, shack owners and water sports to oppose it,” said Fernandes.Foreign tourists visiting the beach also said a floating jetty would go against the touristic experience they currently come to the state for.“There is so much tradition and authenticity here in Goa and it is in itself an asset. These are things that are still nice to see and have to be maintained. We like the typical authentic way of life and we love to live among the traditional fishermen. The jetty will destroy all this authentic life,” said a Brazilian tourist visiting the beach.
Panaji: Promising a shift from enforcement to facilitation, tourism minister Rohan Khaunte on Sunday said that online approval and registration services for the tourism industry will be rolled out within a week. Khaunte, who was speaking at a Travel and Tourist Association of Goa (TTAG) event, said that Goa needs to focus on a long-term strategy to attract high spending tourists. “Businessmen should focus more on their business and spend less time on paperwork and visiting government offices. This week we will introduce and launch online services for registration and renewal of permissions for all types of hotels, guest houses, water sports and other services,” Khaunte said. He also said that he has directed department officials to “trust the Goemkar” and ensure that documentation and verification checks are kept to the minimum with e-sign documents being requested. “We need to be more of facilitators and as a thought, as we bring these things online, I have told the department to work with the tagline trust the Goemkar. There has been a trust deficit in the government with the paperwork coming in and when we give permissions the department checks the genuineness of the papers,” Khaunte said. Reiterating his earlier point that Goa needs to focus on quality tourists instead of numbers, he said that a five to 10-year plan needs to be put in place to brand Goa as a premium tourist destination. “We need to get the right type of tourists, high-spending tourists here. If we put together a plan of five to 10 years, we will start generating quality tourists. When we talk about quality tourists, we are talking about looking at quality seriously and we need to build it up. It is not a game that will be played for two or three days,” Khaunte said. TTAG president Nilesh Shah, who spoke earlier, said that Goa needs to focus on brand building and digital marketing, which targets high-spending tourists. However, Shah warned that the current spate of crimes against women and fraud could spoil Goa’s reputation. He also said that touts, drugs and prostitution will ruin Goa’s reputation as a family destination. “There should be no compromise on law enforcement and strict action must be taken when dealing with such situations to send a message that Goa is safe,” Shah said.
Panaji: Fast-tracking revival of tourism industry in the state after the pandemic, Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte on Sunday said that registration of tourism activities at the department will be made online soon. Khaunte said that all activities related to tourism in the state will go online to facilitate ease of doing business to stakeholders.Khaunte was speaking at a late evening function organised for the 34thinstallation of the president and managing committee of the Travel & Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) at Dona Paula.“EoDB (ease of doing business) is crucial. Business people should focus on business. All renewals will be online. End to end support will be provided and there will be no harassment to stakeholder,” promised Khaunte. With hotels in the state facing shortage of skilled staff, the minister added that skilling and support will be provided to local youth to make them employable.The function saw the induction of the new managing committee with Nilesh Shah.Khaunte was the chief guest on the occasion, while the guest of honour was Puneet Goel, Chief Secretary and Ravi Dhawan, Secretary Tourism special guest.A five year term for excise licence, 50% reduction in fees for C & D category hotels, deferred electricity payments, and extension of panchayat fees, were some of the achievements of TTAG during the year 2021-22.Ganesh Gaonkar, chairman of GTDC, Ralph De Souza, president of GCCI, Menino D’Souza, director of Tourism Department, Rajan Satardekar, director of transport department, Gagan Malik, director of Goa Airport, officials of GTDC and the department of tourism were present.
Outboard motor providedMargao: The Betul coastal security police station received an outboard motor, to be used for a canoe for patrolling activities, under the CSR activity of Haathi Mahal resort, Mobor. The motor, said DySP Rajendra Prabhudesai, would go a long way in helping with patrolling activities along the South Goa coastal stretch.Speaking to mediapersons at the handing over of the motor to the police department, DySP Prabhudesai said that “we had requested to provide us a motor under CSR activity, which we will use in our patrolling activities. It will go a long way in helping us keep an eye along the coastal stretch, from Majorda to Cabo de Rama. We will also keep a watch over fishing trawlers within 5 nautical miles and we can also take action against those that come from outside,” he said.Similarly, it will also help in keeping a watch over water sports activities, he said.Haathi Mahal general manager George Lobo said, “We feel like it is our responsibility to help the police. Our management came forward to donate this outboard motor. Patrolling by the coastal police is very important as it is for the benefit of not only the people but the tourists as well. Under CSR, we feel it is our duty to contribute to society.”
Actress Kapilakshi Malhotra is giving us some major FOMO while she is enjoying the scenic beauty of Goa. Talking about her Goa trip, Kapilakshi says, "Calm shore, beautiful sea beaches, thrilling water sports are the things I love about Goa. Goa is such a lovely place. It is the best place to beat the bustle of city life. I feel relaxed and can unwind in Goa. I often make trips to Goa, whenever I find time in my schedule." Speaking about her solo trip, she further added, "I love solo trips. Right now, I am enjoying my company in Goa. Just relaxing and rejuvenating myself. I am just living in the moment, breathing free, leaving all the work tensions and stress behind. I believe that it's important to take the break from work to empty your mind, and relax each muscle. Sometimes the pandemonium of life leads you to the perfect peace of your own unconditional acceptance." Talking about what Goa means to her, she says, "Goa is a unique place in itself. I love exploring beaches and eating the local cuisine. There's a different vibe in Goa's atmosphere. This place is a treasure trove filled with places to explore and experiences to savour."
NT NETWORKMargaoHundreds of tourists as well as locals flocked to the beaches in Salcete taluka on Friday to ring in the New Year despite the rising number of COVID cases in the state. Several major junctions in the area were also witness to traffic jams that weremanaged and controlled by the local police and traffic cell.Around 150 police personnel were roped in from several South Goa units including that of Margao, Quepem and Curchorem to man major junctions, direct traffic and patrol the streets.Junctions like that at Maria Hall in Benaulim and Green Building in Colva saw a steady flow of traffic during the day which picked up pace by late evening.As per the pre-set plan, the traffic cell had notified three areas in Colva and two in Benaulim for parking of vehicles. Mostly two-wheelers and four-wheelers were seen roaming the streets making their way to the beach to ring in the New Year. For the most part, the police authorities said commuters were cooperative and helped in the smooth flow of traffic and parking of vehicles.At the beaches of Benaulim and Colva, majority of locals and tourists were seen without masks and lacking social distancing norms, while they enjoyed the sea water, food and parties at the local shacks and water sports during the day.Many were busy enjoying the last few hours of the year taking selfies and enjoying themselves.In villages, youngsters partook in a tradition where a stuffed figure of an old man was burned as the clock struck 12.
Panaji: Chief minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday said that his government has been able to utilize 96% of the funds sanctioned to Goa for various projects by the central government. Several of the projects are nearing completion, while the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Goa, campus at Cuncolim will be ready by August 2022, the international law school will begin operations from June 2022 and will have 20% seats reserved for Goans, Sawant said. “The government of India has certified that we have utilized 96% of the funds sanctioned to us during my tenure,” Sawant said. He was speaking after releasing the report card on the achievements of the BJP governments in Goa over the last 10 years. Since 2014, Goa received Rs 25,000 crore funding from the centre under PM Narendra Modi, for both human development and infrastructure development. This is more than Goa’s annual budget, which is Rs 21,000 crore, he said. “While carrying out all this development, many are ready to shoot us claiming that we are carrying out haphazard development. But it has been certified by the government of India that we have climbed to number three from number seven in sustainable development,” Sawant said. “In the case of Mormugao Port Trust, we were only being blamed so far for coal transportation, but Roro services and other such projects are coming up with sanction of the central government,” the chief minister said. By March 2022, a national water sports institute is expected to be completed at Miramar, which will offer graduate, postgraduate and MBA programmes in water sports, he said.
Panaji: The department of tourism has directed all stakeholders, especially online service providers, to register their businesses with the department. The recently amended Goa Registration of Tourist Trade Rules, 1985, has brought new tourist services, like adventure sports, spice plantations and online service providers, under the purview of registration. The rules were notified and brought into effect from April 1. The department has stated that only two online service providers — MakeMyTrip India Pvt Ltd and IBIBO Group Pvt Ltd — are currently registered with it. In a public notice, the department has stated that every person in the business of accommodation, running a travel agency, operating tours or water sports activities, dealing in handicrafts, working as tourist guides or photographers, operating government and private shacks and private huts, renting out deck beds, umbrellas, etc, have to register their activities. If already registered, they have been directed to apply for renewal of registration. The department has stated that “action deemed fit will be initiated against” online service providers who fail to register their business.
NT NETWORKPanajiGoa’s new Zuari Bridge will be state-of-the art and as good as the famous Eiffel Tower of Paris, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has said.Gadkari, addressing local industrialists on Monday, said that the state government has already sanctioned around 50-60 hectares for a mall, restaurants, handicraft centre, and various facilities on the upcoming new Zuari bridge.“All the proposed facilities will be related to culture and draw tourists,” said Gadkari, talking to industrialists of the PM Gati Shakti project, that aims to complete all ongoing road, highway and infrastructure projects in the country by 2024-25.“Tourism is basic strength of Goa and because of infrastructure projects being completed, the state tourism will multiply,” said Gadkari.The Union minister said that he envisages adventure water sports, boating, amphibian sea plane for the state and also fresh focus on shipping.“Shipping is very important for Goa. The Centre had cleared increasing the draft of Goa port to 18 metre but an NGT order stopped the work. Forest clearance and opposition by activists is a problem in the state,” observed Gadkari.His suggestions for the state includes a future drone manufacturing unit, an heli-port for air ambulances to land, focus on food processing and fisheries.“Under the central Sagarmala project, the state has been sanctioned an electronic cluster,” disclosed the Union minister. He added that because the state is already a pharmaceutical hub, it must also look at setting up a medical device cluster.“There is a suggestion for metro in Goa but why not take advantage of water transport as tourists can arrive at Dabolim and go to various hotels by waterways,” said Gadkari.Under the Gati Shakti project, each state has targets to complete ongoing road and highway projects, he said. Gadkari also answered questions raised by Goan industry owners on problems faced by them.To a question on when the new Zuari bridge will be finally complete, he said that the government would try its best to open at least one lane of the bridge before the code of conduct for the assembly elections.The problem of stoppage of feeder vessel at MPT would also be solved, promised Gadkari. Post his address, local industrialists expressed satisfaction with the interaction.Ralph De Sousa, president, GCCI said that the minister has committed on timelines to complete the new bridge which is very encouraging.”The interaction was attended by the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho, a battery of senior government officials and heads of industry bodies.Launched on October 13 2021, the Gati Shakti project aims at reducing logistic costs, creating jobs and improving marketing of goods through road projects and national highways among others.