In the past two decades, as the world has become ever more globalised and the international middle class has gotten richer, casino tourism has become increasingly popular. Casino tourism is a form of high-end tourism whereby people travel far and wide to visit casinos all over the world.
PANAJI: Ahead of the inauguration of the new Goa International Airport at Mopa low cost airline IndiGo announced that it would start 12 daily flights from the new airport from January 5. IndiGo will operate 168 weekly flights connecting all the major metros along with Pune, Jaipur and Ahmedabad. The private airline said the Mopa will be the "largest ever new station launch" in the country with direct flights to eight airports. At the same time, IndiGo said that it will continue with the existing flights from Goa International Airport at Dabolim. "We are very excited to announce our largest ever new station launch with new direct connections from the New Goa International Airport in Mopa," said IndiGo chief executive officer Pieter Elbers. IndiGo said that the new flights are designed to cater to travelers who are "constantly on the lookout for new and affordable flying options" to fly to Goa whether for business or for tourism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate Goa’s second international airport at Mopa on December 11 but the airport will begin operations from January 5. IndiGo said that it is introducing new flights to cater to the “increasing demand” from tourists who want to travel to north Goa. “Residents of Goa will also be able to utilize these new services to fly directly to many large cities across India and utilize IndiGo’s comprehensive network at its hubs to connect onward to its entire network spanning more than 100 destinations,” said the airline in a statement.
One of India’s leading carriers, IndiGo, has announced 12 daily and 168 weekly new flights to and from the soon to-be inaugurated New Goa International Airport.Operations at the airport are set to commence from January 5th, 2023. Indigo, in its press release, has said that this will be the company’s largest ever new station launch and will connect the Mopa International Airport to eight cities across India including New Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and Bengaluru. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the state’s second international airport at Mopa in North Goa on December 11, 2022.IndiGo has said that the reason for the introduction of the new flights is primarily to cater to the increasing demand. Moreover, it will improve direct connectivity to North Goa. As per the press release, Mr. Pieter Elbers, Chief Executive Officer, IndiGo said, “We are very excited to announce our largest ever new station launch with new direct connections from the New Goa International Airport in Mopa, North Goa. It’s momentous for us at IndiGo to have such massive opening and it speaks of our ambition and ability to provide connectivity to our customers and the nation in the best possible way.”“North Goa has some of the most popular tourist attractions and generally derives more traffic than any other region in the state. From scenic beaches to breathtaking forts and glamourous casinos and night clubs, Goa certainly is one of the tourist hubs of India. Residents of Goa will also be able to utilize these new services to fly directly to many large cities across India,” the press release said.
PANAJI: In what is becoming a trend among tourists, yet another individual drove a car onto a beach, this time onto the Morjim beach. With images of the vehicle being circulated on social media, the tourism department directed the Pernem Police Station to file an FIR against the unidentified individuals. According to deputy director for Tourism Dhiraj Vagle, the incident occurred on Thursday noon time. The vehicle, a Toyota Innova Crysta, appears stuck in the sand at Morjim. Photographs of the car, which has Goa registration, showed three individuals besides the car which is close to the high tide line. Morjim is a known Olive Ridley turtle nesting site and the government has banned all forms of activity that can disturb the turtles. The tourism department has also declared driving on Goa's beaches as a nuisance as such activities can damage the tourism potential of Goa’s beaches. Incidents where tourists violate rules and drive in a reckless manner have become common in Goa. “One unauthorized vehicle bearing registration No GA 03 Z 8474 was found to be recklessly and illegally driving at Morjim beach stretch,” said Vagle. Vagle asked the police to file an FIR against the driver and owner of the vehicle under section 188 of IPC. Along with criminal proceedings, the guilty will also have to pay a fine of Rs 5000 extendible up to Rs 50000. Under the Goa Tourist Places Protection and Maintenance Act, the tourism department has prohibited several activities including cooking of food in open spaces, begging, driving on beaches, drinking in public, massages, unauthorized hawkers and selling of cruise tickets. In this case, the owner of the car is liable for fines to the tune of Rs 5000 extendible upto Rs 50000. Goa has witnessed several instances of tourists taking their personal vehicles and rented vehicles for a drive on the beach, often even driving into the water. In the past, several vehicles got bogged down in the sand and were even partially submerged in water.
PANAJI: CM Pramod Sawant said on Wednesday that the 9th World Ayurveda Congress and Arogya Expo, which starts in Goa on Thursday, will feature free Ayush clinics and OPDs, and appealed to the public to avail of these. Sawant said that 4,500 participants have registered to attend the event; of these, 400 are foreigners, from 53 countries. He also said that Ayush ministers from five states will be present for the opening. The congress aims to popularise ayurveda as an authentic and affordable healing method, and as a prevention-oriented healthcare system. There will be 150 invited keynote speakers from the field of ayurveda, as well as cultural programmes and a documentary film festival on ayurveda. “Union Ayush minister Sarbananda Sonowal will inaugurate the meet, which will also be addressed by Union minister of state for tourism Shripad Naik and Union minister of state for Ayush Munjpara Mahendrabhai Kalubhai,” Sawant said. The event on the traditional system will be on for four days, and will conclude on Sunday in the presence of PM Narendra Modi, who will speak at the valedictory session. The PM recently announced Ayush visas to develop tourism, health and wellness centres in the country. With ‘ayurveda for one health’ as the event theme, the expo has been organized by the World Ayurveda Foundation, an initiative of Vijnana Bharati, with the support from the Union Ayush ministry and the Goa government. The conclave is being attended by the World Health Organisation for the first time, and will have six plenary sessions, besides 20 associate events, including a WHO event on traditional medicines. The congress will see around 3,800 abstracts for oral, e-book, and poster presentations. Major topics to be deliberated include expanding the scope of ayurveda — new-age prospects, innovations and entrepreneurship, ayurveda education, ayur informatics, innovation ecosystem, health and environment, and healing in India. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a key topic of discussion will also be ‘facing the pandemic with ayurveda’. Rajesh Kotecha, secretary, ministry of Ayush, and Rajesh Gokhale, secretary, department of biotechnology, will be among the speakers at the plenary sessions.
Panaji: Aside from discussions on the advances in ayurveda, experts and researchers will formulate policies for the development and propagation of ayurveda, including the use of alternative medicine for animal welfare, said the organisers.The deliberations will be held at the 9th World Ayurveda Congress & Arogya Expo which will be attended by 5,000 delegates from India and 60 other countries. The four-day event will also see over 200 industry players showcase their contribution to alternative medicine.“This provides a platform for future development of policies for the propagation of ayurveda for the world,” said secretary general of the World Ayurveda Congress and professor at the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) Anup Thakar. “The best academicians, delegates, ayurveda practitioners and experts will debate during plenary sessions. The demand for ayurveda has increased manifold across the world.”The event aims to prepare a roadmap to promote ayurveda as a reliable, scientific and alternative healthcare system. “Goa has a lot of potential for ayurveda. The way Kerala has used branding and promotion, Goa has a big opportunity to make ayurveda a strong point for wellness tourism and boost its economy,” said Thakar.Director general at the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) Rabinarayan Acharya said that for the first time, a dedicated two-day conclave on veterinary ayurveda will be held on the sidelines of the expo where scientists and professors will share scientific research in the field of animal healthcare.Deputy director of the Ayush export council Ashutosh Shrivastava said that in order to increase export of Ayush and alternative medicines, 50 buyers from foreign nations along with regulators from other nations have been invited for the conference. “We will get them connected with Indian exporters and manufacturers. There will foreign drug regulators who will bring in information about their practices so that India can see how to meet their standards,” said Shrivastava.
Panaji: The very first management plans, as required under the Union environment ministry’s norms, for five of Goa’s wildlife sanctuaries and one national park are in their final stages of preparation. Once approved, the plans will be in force for 10 years. Each plan will lay a blueprint for the protected areas’ wildlife habitat management, soil and moisture conservation, protection of sanctuary area, eco-development and eco-tourism, and biodiversity enrichment plantation.“There is already a management plan in place for the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary at Chorao. The management plan for Bondla is nearly ready and will be submitted for approval soon. The Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary plan is in the last stages of preparation. The Mhadei and the Netravali wildlife sanctuary management plans are set to be completed soon and the plan for Mollem national park and wildlife sanctuary is in advanced stages of preparation,” said the chief conservator of forests for Goa, Saurabh Kumar.The state forest department had engaged local experts who have prepared the plans with inputs from the deputy conservator of forests from each of the areas concerned. While the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary plan has been prepared by Nandkumar Sawant, the management plans for Cotigao and Netravali wildlife sanctuaries have been prepared by Manoj Borkar. Sawant and Borkar are both senior academicians.Principal investigator at Goa University, Nitin Sawant, is preparing the management plan for Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, while Sujeet Kumar Dongre of the centre for environmental education is drawing the plans for the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park at Mollem.“The management plans will cover all features of each sanctuary area like its topography, humidity, rainfall patterns, soil, flora and fauna while recording endemic and flagship species present there. The sources of water will also be detailed. Based on this, we will be able to plan better where fruit-bearing trees or palatable grasses need to be planted, where to create artificial waterholes, and what soil and moisture conservation measures are needed,” said Kumar.Goa’s wildlife sanctuaries were notified in the late 1990s but did not have management plans until now as required under central government norms.“Having a management plan will also help in seeking funds from the Centre for various projects. The plans will even guide us in aspects such as carrying capacity for eco-tourism and how to involve locals in eco-tourism projects. Extensive and intensive groundwork has been carried out by the experts to prepare the management plans with our deputy conservator of forests,” said Kumar.Though the management plans will be in force for 10 years from the time each is approved, a review every 3-4 years is important, he said, “for rearrangement of descriptions and prescription of different work components, deletion of unnecessary items and addition of different activities on the basis of outcomes”.
Panaji: Goa assembly speaker Ramesh Tawadkar on Tuesday said that President Droupadi Murmu will not attend the tribal festival Lokotsav being held from December 7 to 11 at Amone, Poinguinim.Last month, the speaker had said that the President had accepted his invitation to attend the tribal festival and is likely to attend the same on December 9.“Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the state and two VVIPs cannot come to Goa at the same time. Modi is attending a government function. The President had accepted our invitation, but now she will not come,” Tawadkar said.Organised by Adarsh Yuva Sangh, the Lokotsav is an annual event showcasing folk tradition and culture of the tribal community. This is the event’s 22nd edition.“The objective of Lokotsav is to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage of the tribal community,” the Canacona MLA had said. “Goa’s promotion as a tourist destination all these years has been with a focus on beach tourism, while Goa’s village culture has been largely ignored.”
Panaji: Tourism minister Rohan Khaunte has welcomed the action taken by the Calangute panchayat, saying “cleansing up of illegalities” has begun with the help of a civic body.Khaunte said that such action would help the state to improve the image further and attract “good tourists”.“Appreciate the strong action by Calangute panchayat with the support of the CM against dance bars. Direct involvement of panchayat and the local community can help eradicate such infamous menaces that tarnish the image of Goa tourism,” he said on Tuesday.He said the tourism department has always said that the “cleansing” can be achieved only with the support of other departments such as home, panchayats, etc. Hence, it is to be appreciated that some panchayats are coming forward to take the Goa Tourism objective forward, he said. “If all the related departments play their role efficiently, it will bring a big change,”he said.Describing it as a good beginning, he said that the CM has also issued directions to the police and added that things are moving in the right direction. tnn
Calangute: Calangute panchayat on Monday sealed two premises at Khobrawado, alleged to be dance bars. Calangute sarpanch Joseph Sequeira said the premises were sealed as unsavoury activities going on there. “We don’t want these sorts of businesses in Calangute and we will see that they don’t come here in the future too. It's a big problem for us. That's why we all came for an inspection and sealed the premises,” Sequeira said. The two ‘dance bars’ were sealed in the presence of Calangute police.Locals said tourists were being lured to the nightspots and beaten up and looted, and that this had been going on for years. “Tourists are lured here by pimps and touts who promise them women. They are then taken inside and looted or beaten up if they resist. If they don’t cough up the money, their phones and gold ornaments are snatched,” a local said.Following the Monday night raids, Sequeira urged Calangute locals to help stop illegal activities. “I want to appeal to people that in case they've given any places on rent for these things, they should take back the place and start a good business,” he said.Earlier on Monday, panchayat members, along with Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, had met chief minister Pramod Sawant and urged him to crackdown on the various illegal activities going on in the tourism hub. “The chief minister called the SP and asked him to round up all the touts,” Sequeira said.
PANAJI: Union minister of state for tourism Shripad Naik appealed to scientists to focus on organic farming and agricultural scientists to give maximum emphasis on not allowing soil texture to deteriorate. He was speaking at the World Soil Day event at ICAR-Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute on Monday. “Designing crop patterns according to the ‘agro climatic zone’ is essential as is encouraging intercropping. These steps need to be taken effectively,” he said. Himanshu Pathak, secretary, department of agriculture research and education and director general ICAR, joined the programme virtually and highlighted the soil health card schemes and ‘neem’ coated urea to increase fertiliser use efficiency. Parveen Kumar, director, ICAR-CCARI stressed on maintaining good soil health to get healthy food. More than 100 farmers joined physically and 6,000 scientists, technical staff of ICAR joined the programme virtually across the nation. On this occasion, soil health cards were also distributed to 100 farmers. Suresh Kumar Chaudhari, deputy director general (Natural Resource Management), ICAR, New Delhi, stressed on bringing students and stakeholders who are not directly related to research under the Soil Day programme to create awareness. World Soil Day is held annually on December 5 as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources.
Panaji: Just a few days after a Russian woman was raped by two Nepali men, tourism minister Rohan Khaunte put out a cryptic statement calling on Goa police to ensure the safety of tourists. The minister, who was in Mumbai, did not refer to any specific incident and chose not to bring up the rape committed by the men who were employed at a hotel.“Tourist safety is a joint effort and the tourism department is confident that Goa police will ensure the safety of our guests by taking stringent action against unlawful activities that tarnish the image of Goa tourism,” he said.While the two men who allegedly committed the crime have been arrested, Goa Police has also been cracking down on violations of sound pollution norms, following an order of the high court. Personnel from the Pernem police station have registered a case under environment protection act against the owner and manager of a beach resort at Morjim for breaching the noise pollution limits. The organisers ofthe party have also been booked. Until the court order, the official machinery, especially the police, were alleged to have been ignoring complaints from local residents of noise pollution beyond 10pm.
PANAJI: Just a few days after a Russian woman was raped by two Nepali men, tourism minister Rohan Khaunte put out a cryptic statement calling on Goa Police to ensure the safety of tourists. Khaunte, who was in Mumbai, did not refer to any specific incident and chose not to bring up the rape committed by the men who were employed at a hotel. “Tourist safety is a joint effort and the tourism department is confident that Goa Police will ensure the safety of our guests by taking stringent action against unlawful activities that tarnish the image of Goa tourism,” said Khaunte. While Goa Police has arrested the two men who allegedly committed the crime, Goa Police has also been cracking down on violations of sound pollution norms. Personnel from the Pernem police station registered a case under environment protection act against the owner and manager of a beach resort at Morjim for breaching the noise pollution limits. The organisers of the party have also been booked. December marks the peak tourist season in Goa and Khaunte had recently asked stakeholders from the tourism industry to bring out the “best of our famous Goan hospitality” and to also ensure a safe, clean and joyful stay for tourists.
Calangute: Beach shack owners in the Calangute-Candolim tourism hub have urged the tourism department to allow them to put tables in place of beach beds in the permitted area in front of the shacks. Beach shacks are allowed to put 10 deck beds in front of the shacks while tables are only allowed inside the shacks. Following large-scale violations the tourism department had recently launched a drive to confiscate tables and extra beds which were kept on the beach.Talking to TOI, Shack owners welfare society (SOWS) general secretary John Lobo said there are no takers for the beach beds after sunset, so they have asked the tourism department to allow tables and chairs in the same area. Shack owners point out that beach beds were largely popular with foreign charter tourists who would lounge on them during the day to acquire a tan. But with charter tourist arrivals down and visitors to the beach being largely domestic tourists there are no takers for the beach beds. “Domestic tourists don’t like to come out in the sun,” shack owners said.However domestic tourists make a beeline to the beach after sunset and request for tables on the beach. To cater to these requests many shack owners put tables sometimes close to the water. “The tourism department should not allow tables close to the water. They should only be allowed in the area meant for deck beds in front of the shacks,” Lobo said.
Margao: Integrated farming blended with eco-tourism is a concept that Goa legislative assembly speaker Ramesh Tawadkar is planning to establish in Canacona soon.While it is still in the conceptual stage, Tawadkar says the project will empower the farmers in a big way while also catapulting Canacona on the eco-tourism map of the world.“The idea is simple,” Tawadkar told TOI. “If a tourist or say, a nature enthusiast, wishes to stay in the village for a month or so and actually try out farming, we will have facilities offering him that very kind of hands-on experience. A farmer will thus have 2-3 rooms built in his field that he will offer as home-stay units. The guest will be able to grow and harvest his own crop or vegetables while also helping the farmer in his regular farming activities.”The farmer will be encouraged to venture into dairy farming and allied activities like a go-shala or cattle breeding centres. Processing of cow urine and cowdung are also lucrative activities that a farmer will be able to try his hands on, Tawadkar said.The Canacona MLA also has his sights set firmly on establishing agro-based industries in Canacona on one lakh sq m of land. Tawadkar said that Rs 60 cr worth of funds have already been sanctioned for the project and once all the modalities about land procurement are worked out, work on the project will begin. This, he said, may take not more than 6 months.Tawadkar said that jackfruit, coconut, kokum and cashew have been identified for setting up food processing units in the initial stage. More fruits will be added later.Integrated farming blended with ecotourism activities will provide lucrative entrepreneurship opportunities for locals, Tawadkar said, while also boosting agriculture.“As agriculture is the mainstay of the village economy of Canacona, the situation is conducive for setting up agro processing units here, and will generate substantial employment for locals,” Tawadkar said.
Panaji: Preserving language plays an important role in understanding and healing the wounds of India’s and Goa’s colonial past, said minister of state for external affairs and culture Meenakashi Lekhi on Saturday. Lekhi said that even the dark aspects of the country’s pre-Independence history offers positive lessons for contemporary society.Lekhi also called for collaboration and exchange of trade and ideas with countries that share a Lusophone history. Lusophones are people that speak Portuguese as a native or as a common second language due to the colonial influence of Portugal.“We understand and take deep cognisance that languages need to be conserved and preserved. Only if you preserve language will you remember the history and the past. That past will always have lessons for humanity,” said Lekhi. “Even the wounds which one would have got of particular events, there are always positive lessons because even bad things can teach us what not to do. Goa maintains historical links with the Lusophone world owing to the Portuguese colonial rule in the past. The ministry of external affairs along with the Indian Council of Cultural Relations and the Goa government is organising the International Lusophone Festival in Goa till December 6.“This festival becomes important because India shares deep ties with the Lusophone countries. I hope cultural exchange of this nature, becomes an yearly event. There will be greater exchange of ideas,” said Lekhi. Chief minister Pramod Sawant, who was also present for the event, said that the festival will help promote tourism in Goa and will help connect different countries that share a similar colonial past.
Margao: The South Goa police on Friday held a meeting with the sarpanchs of Salcete villages and with a view to creating an awareness among them about cyber crime and its prevention. DySP Shivendy Bhushan, who chaired the meeting, later told TOI that it was a regular exercise aimed at reaching out to the public in view of the rising incidents of cyber crime in the state. “We are holding meetings with various segments of the society – students, women, NGOs, etc. This was an exercise involving elected representatives from panchayats as they have a wider reach. The sarpanchs were informed about the do’s and don’ts for prevention of cyber crimes, and in case of frauds how to respond to the incidents,” Bhushan said.The sarpanchs who attended the meeting said that they have been asked to create awareness among the villagers on the issue. The sarpanchs also took the opportunity of the interaction with the police officers to apprise the police about the issues faced by the locals over issues concerning law and order.The officers, they said, sought their help in tackling cyber crimes and other crimes. From their side, the sarpanchs urged theof ficers to intensify night patrolling and take preventive measures to curb the rising crime rate. The sarpanchs also brought to the notice of the officers that tourism-related areas are witnessing crimes, and for this, the police need to increase surveillance on the movement of suspicious elements.
Calangute/Panaji: Three days after illegal deck beds and beach tents were confiscated at Morjim, the tourism department cracked the whip at Calangute.Authorities raided shacks on the Calangute beach and seized 145 cane chairs, 68 tables and 32 sofas. Tourism minister Rohan Khaunte has vowed to crack down on such illegalities with an iron hand. In a surprise raid late evening, the department along with tourist police swooped down on the beach and seized chairs, tables, sofa sets and deck beds that had been kept illegally by shacks. According to authorities, 32 sofas, 145 cane chairs, 68 tables, 58 sofa cushions, plastic chairs and four beds were confiscated by the department. “The tourism department will not encourage illegalities that are happening on the coastal belt or at other places,” said Khaunte. “Illegalities that were happening in the past cannot be allowed to continue and wherever we find this we will crack down with an iron hand.”Shack owners said the tourism department needs to take a more balanced approach to the problem and allow them to put some tables at least in front of the shacks. As per norms, each shack is allowed to put up 10 deck beds, however tables cannot be placed outside shacks.President of the Traditional Shack Owners’ Association Manuel Cardozo said that the tourism department’s crackdown is appreciated. “There are some who instead of placing a few tables, put 50 tables. Some put tables right down next to the water. They should not be allowed because they block the movement of tourists. But because of a few, everyone should not suffer,” Cardozo said. At the same time, he said that some shack operators have been putting a few tables in front of shacks for decades and they should not be penalised. He said that large-scale violations are only happening in a few areas, but because of the crack down everyone is being harassed.“Stakeholders of the industry need to come together and work to lift Goa’s position as a tourist destination, and we all have to put our best foot forward,” said Khaunte. Assistant tourism officer Milind Chodankar along with tourist police personnel led the raid. The department said that it will intensify measures to curb illegalities.
Panaji: Revolutionary Goans (RG) on Friday alleged that the tourism department is turning a blind eye to the illegalities committed by hawkers and touts.RG founder Manoj Parab said that CCTV cameras should be installed at all tourist places and tourist places monitoring committees should be formed in every panchayat.“The tourism budget is Rs 247 crore for this year of which Rs 12 core is for foreign junkets or promoting Goa in international travel events. Stop these junkets for one year and instead use the Rs 12 crore to set up high definition CCTV cameras on all the beaches,” he said.Parab said that it is shocking that a minister directly blames police for not cracking down on touts, hawkers and beggars. He said that he has sent photos and videos to tourism minister Rohan Khaunte and tourism director Nikhil Desai, but there has been no action. “Hawkers are still selling wares in Panaji near the Immaculate Conception Church. Action is taken against touts for a day or two but after that nothing happens,” Parab said.
Panaji: Concerned about the construction of concrete piers at the mouth of the St Inez creek, a few concerned citizens from Panaji and Taleigao have criticised the haphazard concretisation of the state capital. The residents have warned that the ongoing work to build a foot overbridge near the ESG complex will block the flow of water from the St Inez creek.While residents said that they are in favour of the walkway, they have demanded that the concrete structures should be demolished and instead eco-friendly material should be used to support the arch footbridge.The residents have also urged North Goa collector Mamu Hage, who is also the chief executive officer of Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Limited (IPSCDL), to dredge the mouth of the St Inez creek, which appears completely blocked.“This creek is the lifeline of Panaji, but now tidal flushing of the creek has stopped because the mouth of the creek has been deliberately choked,” said geologist Arnoldo Carmo Lobo. “The concrete foundation blocks are killing the creek. You do not require concrete pillars for a walkway. That is in an eco-sensitive zone.”The citizens met with Hage and IPSCDL officials, who are executing the Smart City Mission and the AMRUT Mission in the state. The officials briefed the citizens about the plans for the creek and the riverside promenade, which includes a cycling track.The concerned residents had spoken to Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserrate and tourism minister Rohan Khaunte to ask them about the government’s long-term plans for Panaji.Former Corporation of the city of Panaji councillor Patricia Pinto said that the government is not being transparent. Pinto pointed out that despite concerns being raised and despite assurances given by Khaunte, no presentation has been given to citizens about the major projects being undertaken in Panaji.Coordinator of Goa Green Brigade Avertino Miranda said that the construction at the mouth of the St Inez creek is “illegal and environmentally destructive” as it would lead to increased siltation and flooding in the upstream areas. Local resident Vishal Rawlley said that the creek remains a fragile ecosystem for fish, turtles, otters and even crocodiles.
Panaji: While the country’s GST collections notched up an 11% increase in November, the GST revenue from Goa showed a 14% drop. As against the Rs 518 crore earned in November 2021, tax officials recorded a revenue of Rs 447 crore in the last month. GST officials and the industry expects stronger GST collections in December which is the peak tourism season, and since international charters have resumed arrivals in Goa. Last December, despite the lack of international tourists, Goa still brought in Rs 592 crore as GST revenue, with the resurgence driven by revenge tourism by domestic travellers and uptick in manufacturing.
Panaji: The wedding season and an uptick in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) segment has resulted in the state’s starred hotels operating at full occupancy. Small and mid-level hotels, however, are yet to reach this level, with most in the category seeing decent occupancy only on the weekends. Their fortunes are expected to look up after December 10, as Goa approaches its peak tourism period. “Occupancy at small hotels is still at 60-70%, though on the weekends, almost all hotel segments do well. Smaller hotels can expect an increase in occupancy post-December 10 as a lot of activities have been lined up for the second half of the month,” president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), Nilesh Shah, told TOI.The Serendipity Arts Festival is scheduled from December 15, followed by the busy Christmas week. The last week of the year will see the return of Sunburn after two seasons of a lull.Small and mid-segment hotels were the worst hit during the Covid-19 pandemic when several restrictions were imposed on international travel and charter arrivals stopped abruptly. Starred hotels managed to stay afloat by wooing domestic tourists during this time. It also helped that Goa became the most favoured tourist destination for the rest of the country when holidaying abroad was not an option.Recovery of the small hotels segment remained slow after the two-year-long pandemic, with most resuming operations only this year. The resumption of charters, Shah said, has raised the hopes of small and medium hotels, which can expect healthy business in the coming months. He also said that although the state has seen an influx of domestic and foreign tourists during the current season, competition is expected to soar as many other holiday destinations in India and abroad have now opened up fully.“The litmus test of Goa tourism’s sector begins now. It has to be seen how it maintains its dominance as other destinations eye the same market segment as ours,” Shah said. “The going may not be as easy as it was during the past year. Goa tourism must strive to upgrade infrastructure, provide better public transport and maintain cleanliness at tourist spots. It must do all things that matter to tourists, right.”Despite Goa not yet reaching its peak tourist season, many parts have already started experiencing serpentine traffic snarls that are otherwise seen on the last two or three days of the year. Shah said the government urgently needs to devise a traffic management place in the interest of both tourists and locals.
Panaji: Since November, Goa has received one charter a day, besides four scheduled flights a week, from Russia. However, stakeholders said that the state will probably have to wait till the next season to touch the pre-pandemic numbers. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Goa would receive three charters a day from various Russian destinations. Nonetheless, tourism stakeholders are happy with the footfalls as the last two seasons saw them run into losses. “We are doing good this season, but I think we will be able to achieve pre-pandemic level business only next year,” said Ernest Dias, chief operating officer at Sita, handling Russian tourists.For the longest time, Russia has been the biggest market for Goa, apart from the UK. In 2019, Goa received 3.41 lakh tourists from Russia and 2.71 lakh from the UK. More than half the charter tourists came from Russian destinations. Dias said that a new trend that he has observed this season is that, besides budget tourists, the state is also seeing high-spending tourists from Russia.“That’s probably because Russia being at war with Ukraine, its citizens have fewer travel options,” said Dias.Vice president (operations) at Minar Travels (India) Pvt Ltd, Abida Kumar, said charters from Russia will continue till April 23, 2023.Besides Russia, two charters a week from the UK and one from Kazakhstan fly into Goa. President of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), Nilesh Shah, said that with the e-visa issue still unresolved, UK charters are seeing only 50-60% occupancy.“Had the e-visa problem been sorted out, we could have more arrivals from the UK,” Shah said.Before the season started, TUI Airways had committed to fly four charters, but altered its plan after potential UK travellers cancelled their Goa plans after facing difficulties in securing paper visas.Until the pandemic, Goa received repeat tourists from the UK.A tour operator handling UK travellers said that even as the e-visa issues remain unresolved, they are receiving queries from the UK and expect the next season to be better. In 2018, as many as 2.94 lakh travellers from the UK visited Goa, the highest numbers seen in a decade since 2009, while average annual arrivals stood at 1.75 lakh. Goa also received a significant number of tourists from countries such as Germany, Ukraine, Finland, France and Switzerland. Arrivals from Ukraine dried up last year with the war. Arrivals from Finland, France and Switzerland have dipped significantly in the last few years.
Margao: The state will launch its own app-based cab aggregator service, ‘Goa Taxi’, on December 19. While Goa Electronics Ltd (GEL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the state-owned Economic Development Corporation will be the aggregator, the transport department will be the regulatory body. Transport minister Mauvin Godinho told reporters on Wednesday that all seven taxi associations of the state have been asked to join Goa Taxi. He said it will be “in their own hands.” Certain welfare schemes for the taxi owners joining Goa Taxi will also be introduced and will be announced soon, he said. Tourism minister Rohan Khaunte said that as the present world is technology-driven, an app-based cab aggregator service was something that couldn’t be evaded. “Goa Taxi will take care of Goan taxiwallas. They will now get to run their own app-based cab service which they had been demanding. Extra profits will be ploughed back to the taxiwallas,” Khaunte said.Stating that Goa Taxi will be supported by the tourism department, Khaunte justified the move to launch the service. “Tourism needs to thrive in Goa, and tourists need to go back with pleasant experiences. We are competing with other states, which are giving them competitive rates. So having a cab aggregator service is a must for Goa.”Taxi operators in Goa have been consistently opposing any moves by the government to introduce app-based cab aggregator service on the grounds that it will push them out of business. Rising complaints against taxi operators for fleecing tourists by overcharging them had driven the demand from the public for introducing app-based cab aggregator service in the state.Just last month, the government relaunched the GoaMiles taxi counter at Dabolim airport, with which a 25-year agreement has been signed by the tourism department.
Panaji: The tourism department on Tuesday raided the Vithaldas Wada stretch of the Morjim beach and seized three truckloads of illegally placed deck beds, beach umbrellas, tents and other material.During the past few days, the otherwise quiet beach had seen increased activity with vendors backed by some locals installing deck beds and beach umbrellas. Beach shacks are permitted a certain number of deck beds and beach umbrellas, but most tend to put up more. A senior tourism official said they will intensify action if any beach or tourist place is treated as private property. “Illegal structures will be removed, and the beach will be made accessible to visitors,” he said.The raid was carried out by assistant tourism officer Milind Chodankar with police assistance. This is the first time that the tourism department has moved its attention to beach belts other than that of Calangute, Baga and Candolim, which are comparatively more congested. For North Goa’s popular beaches, it has posted flying squads to check illegalities on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, a period when footfalls soar.
Panaji: Airbnb has collaborated with the tourism department to launch ‘Rediscover Goa’, a week-long celebration of the state’s vast cultural diversity. From December 12-18, ‘Rediscover Goa’ will offer 20-plus specially curated Airbnb experiences hosted by local experts.Tourism minister Rohan Khaunte said that the partnership will support the department’s endeavour to boost hinterland and homestay tourism. “This kind of initiative will bring financial independence to the women who are the majority stakeholders in the homestay business.”Besides the flavours of the state’s unique culinary delights, the initiative also offers outdoor activities like a riverside e-cycling tour and kayaking on the Sal backwaters .“Goa is a highly sought-after tourism destination and is one of the key destinations for us. As close partners to Goan communities, we are making conscious efforts to boost unique and immersive experiences in the state,” said Amanpreet Bajaj, general manager, Airbnb India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.Other activities planned are a brewery tour and tasting, walking through the mansions of Goa, sunset and starry sky trail, Guardian Spirits of Goa – an interactive film, among others.
PANAJI: Airbnb has collaborated with the Goa tourism department for "Rediscover Goa", a week-long celebration of the state’s vast cultural diversity beyond its beaches and dazzling nightlife. The ‘Rediscover Goa’ will take place from December 12-18 offering 20 plus specially curated Airbnb experiences hosted by local experts. The partnership with Airbnb, tourism minister Rohan Khaunte said, will support tourism department’s endeavours in hinterland and homestay tourism. "This kind of initiative will bring financial independence to the women who are the majority stakeholder in the homestay business and provide benefits to remote communities". As a part of Rediscover Goa, guests can savour the flavours of the state’s unique culinary delights through an authentic five-course meal with chef Anumitra. Spend an evening enjoying two of the most iconic music genres of Portugal and Goa, Fado and Mando with Fadista Sonia Shirsat. Those interested in the outdoors can choose to take a riverside e-cycling tour, go kayaking at the Sal backwaters or head for a cliff to Coast trail.
PANAJI: To bridge the gap between a rapidly growing number of electric vehicles (EV) and few charging stations, the state government is looking at installing 40 such stations at a cost of Rs 3.2 crore. The Goa Energy Development Agency (GEDA) on Monday invited expressions of interest from firms for supplying, installing, commissioning, operating and maintaining the charging stations at various locations in the state on a design, build, operate, finance and transfer (DBOFT) basis. This is being taken up under a scheme of the ministry of heavy industries - Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (hybrid) and Electric Vehicles (FAME India) - which proposes to give a push to EVs in public and private transportation. FAME-II will support e-buses, three-, four- and two-wheelers. "The bidder can quote for all locations. Only eight locations will be allotted where the bidder will be selected on the basis of maximum rentals offered to GEDA," the agency said. It advised bidders to conduct a preliminary survey of the sites and clarified that it would not be held responsible for any incidental or consequential losses during execution of the project and until the expiry of the operation and maintenance period. "The bidder shall be responsible for supply, erection, testing, commissioning and maintaining - at his own cost - the EV charging station and all other works required for the execution and functioning of the EV charging station, unless otherwise specifically provided for in the contract documents," GEDA stated. "Safety and security of vehicles utilising the charging facility will be the responsibility of the operator," it added. The Goa EV Concessional Charging Infrastructure Policy, 2021, was notified last year. "Goa's economy is largely dependent on tourism as the annual arrival of tourists are almost five times that of the local population. Goa has a total population of 15 lakh and receives about 75 lakh tourists every year. High vehicle density and increased load affect the environment due to carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, an affordable and efficient concessional public EV charging infrastructure is needed," GEDA stated.