Goa Tourism News

Mantri unveils tourism projects, says Centre will fund some more
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: Unveiling a slew of tourism and cultural projects in Goa, Union minister of tourism and culture G Kishan Reddy, on Saturday, said that the Centre will support efforts to bring Goa’s tourism sector on par with international standards. He said that the Union ministry for tourism will give Goa greater attention in the coming months and is willing to provide the necessary funds to enhance Goa’s tourism potential. Reddy, who was addressing a press conference in the state capital, said that the Central government is poised to develop 75 tourism destinations in the country to international standards, particularly Goa and the proposal is awaiting cabinet approval. “There will be more infrastructure, new initiatives and inaugurations by working with the state government, Goa Tourism Development Corporation and Goa Tourism,” Reddy said. “We will give more funds for Goa. We need to bring Goa to international standards, to compete with other international destinations.” He said that the 75 destinations were being developed as part of the ICON project which has been conceptualised to mark the 75th year of India’s independence. Explaining his ministry’s plans for promoting India as an international tourism destination, Reddy said tourist officers have been appointed in 20 embassies to promote, brand and market India as a tourism destination. “That is why our department, in the coming months, wants to pay more attention to Goa and its tourism potential,” Reddy said. He added that the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, has thwarted plans for resumption of international travel, particularly international charter flights. “We had spoken to international charter operators and with the countries but because a new variant has been detected, the tour operators and various other countries have introduced new restrictions. This has created a hassle for us,” Reddy said. He said that he is confident that Goa’s tourism sector will once again boom once the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.

Mantri unveils tourism projects, says Centre will fund some more
Goa paves way for implementation of tourism masterplan, forms board, dissolves 3 allied panels
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: With the constitution of the Goa Tourism Board (GTB), three committees that held sway over the ministry — the state-level promotion and marketing committee, the high-powered monitoring committee, and the state-level permission committee — now stand dissolved. All important decisions pertaining to Goa as a tourist destination will henceforth be taken by the 19-member board, paving the way for earnest implementation of the tourism masterplan. Up until the constitution of the tourism board, the state-level promotion and marketing committee decided marketing strategies, including what international trade fairs and road shows Goa should participate in. The high-powered monitoring committee, headed by the chief minister, cleared tourism infrastructure projects, and the state-level permission committee was tasked with advising the government over big-ticket tourism events proposed to be held in Goa. An industry observer said that although the state-level permission committee was formed to facilitate the processing of applications pertaining to big events such as electronic dance music festivals, approvals took months to obtain. The GTB has been vested with powers to facilitate clearances, lay down guidelines, procedures and standards for organising events, and to accord approval for major and minor events. It shall constitute sub-committees to accord permissions for tourism-related events such as music shows, music festivals, concerts, night bazaars, beach weddings, tourism exhibitions, meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE), and tourism events across the state. “We want an end to the delays. The ‘yes’ or ‘no’ should be communicated within a few days. Organisers should not be kept waiting for months. We expect the GTB to be prompt,” the industry observer said. Presently, organisers have to approach various authorities to get permissions even after the tourism department gives its approval for a particular event. A member of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa said that although the government has long been talking of a single-window clearance system, stakeholders were yet to see any development on this front. “With the tourism board coming into force, we hope that no more organisers are made to run from pillar to post for permissions,” the member said. The GTB has the chief minister as chairperson and tourism minister as co-chairperson. Besides officials of the tourism ministry and industry representatives, it will also comprise four subject matter experts and an environmental expert having at least 10 years of experience in environmental science and sustainable development. The board will meet every three months and even lay down rules regulating its own procedures. Interestingly, there is also a provision that the board may decide to allot a specific event or activity to the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) for execution, while the execution of events and activities under the promotion and marketing segment shall be carried out by the tourism department. An industry member told TOI on the condition of anonymity that the clause involving the GTDC in execution of certain events and activities, and the tourism department for promotions and marketing would not only leave scope for duplication of work but would also complicate matters. “Indirectly, it provide a chance for interference, wherein one could push an agenda that may have earlier been vetoed by the tourism board,” the industry member said.

Goa paves way for implementation of tourism masterplan, forms board, dissolves 3 allied panels
With no foreign tourists visiting Goa, allottees opt to rent out beach shacks
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

PANAJI: In the past, it was only a handful of the beach shacks allottees who would routinely opt to sublet, however, their numbers have gone up this year. With no foreign tourists, allottees — mostly those away from the main Calangute and Candolim beach hubs — are choosing to rent out their shacks in defiance of the beach shack policy in a bid to tide over the economic crisis. Goa has seen a huge inflow of domestic tourists since September, but industry stakeholders said that these visitors mostly visit popular beach stretches of Calangute, Baga and Candolim. This means that the shacks located away from the main beach belt do not benefit from the stupendous rise in domestic footfalls that is witnessed on weekends and other times of the year. Such shacks operating beyond the main Calangute beach and along the Sinquerim beach and those in Candolim have for the past several years mainly relied on foreign tourists. With no foreign tourists, shack operators can’t recover expensesLast season several did not set up their shacks despite having paid the licence fees, including me. This season I have set up my shack. Several at Gaurawaddo in Calangute have rented out their shacks due to poor business,” one operator said. Another operator said that the shacks are mostly rented out from them by nonlocals, who believe that it is a lucrative business. “And it is, provided you have a steady flow of tourists. Most of the shacks in Calangute and Candolim traditionally relied on foreign clientele. It did not make a difference even if they were located at the dead end of the beach, because foreigners prefer solitude,” he said. However, with no foreign tourists, shack operators cannot recover the cost of setting up a shack, plus other expenses. Rent, depending on the area, will bring in nothing less than Rs 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh a season. Along the Calangute-Baga stretch, it could be Rs 3 lakh and more for a season. “The total of all fees such as licence fees of the tourism department, charges of the directorate of food and drugs administration and excise, and panchayat fees, easily come to about Rs 1.2 lakh. Plus we have to bear an additional Rs 3 lakh expenditure for setting up the shack,” the operator said. Due to the pandemic, the tourism department had reduced the beach licence fees by 50% for the last and current season. Moreover, the operator said that with high wear and tear, they are also unable to reuse the construction materials. The same applies for electrical appliances and other goods. “They degrade fast due to the salinity. Several operators will tell you that their CCTV cameras installed two years ago are non-functional and now they can’t afford to buy new ones,” another operator said. According to the beach shack policy, every allottee has to install a CCTV camera. This season, several operators are faced with a new problem — waiters demanding to be paid a commission on bills, a trend that has gained traction among operators along the main Calangute beach. An operator at Baga said that, since the start of the season, at least seven of his staff have quit after he declined to pay them a commission on a bill. Nonetheless, he was forced to give in last week when two more of his waiters threatened to leave if not paid a commission. “They are not my partners in business, but last week I was helpless. How would I manage if everybody started leaving? I agreed to a 5% commission on bills raised, plus a salary of Rs 5,000,” he said. The commission he said will differ from beach to beach with waiters at Calangute beach commanding up to 10%. A shack operator at Candolim said that the trend is not healthy, but it has set-in compelling others to either follow it or lose business. “Operators renting shacks are likely to play all tricks to stay ahead of the business, including indulging in illegalities. Time to operate the shack by waiting at the billing counter to walk-in customers is behind us. If you don’t have one to two waiters to bring in customers, there are chances you will hardly do any business,” he said. The tourism department allotts about 340 to 350 shacks of which the maximum are located in North Goa, mainly in Calangute, Baga and Candolim tourism belt.

With no foreign tourists visiting Goa, allottees opt to rent out beach shacks
Since shacks do not fall under GST, it is not possible to prove illegalities
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: Tourism department has tried to crack down on allottees who sublet their beach shacks. It was never easy for the sleuths as operators have mastered the art of circumventing the conditions of the Beach Shack Policy. Whenever the department questions about the absence of an allottee at the shack during their surprise visit, the ready response will be “the person at the counter is his manager.” Despite Beach Shack Policy disallowing subletting, several indulge in the illegality without ever getting caught, and not a single case has been booked to date. “Since beach shacks do not fall under the GST bracket, it is not possible to prove illegalities of those who rent shacks,” a senior department official said. The policy requires allottees to submit a list of their staff members, which they do religiously. “In a way, it is a protection shield. The person whom a shack is sublet will be shown as the manager,” said a beach shack operator. The official said that there is no bar on appointing a manager, and if he is found running the shack, it can’t be proof enough to cancel the licence issued. “How do you prove subletting? We have tried,” he said. Another beach shack operator said that when a shack is sublet, the allottee does not transfer the licence as it is not permitted. The tourism department issues documents in the name of the allottee who pays the licence as well other fees charged by it and other departments. But when an allottee sublets, he recovers all fees paid by him from the tenant. “The agreement between the allottee and the tenant is an unwritten one. The tenant will pay him a sum that covers various fees and charges for the shack’s infrastructure. It’s like renting a furnished shack,” said the operator who has experience in subletting. Rent, he said, will depend on the location of the shack and type of furnishing. “The person renting it has a ready setup, and at the most, he may tweak the menu. Plus, he will have methods in place to recover the entire cost of the operation,” the shack operator said. Another operator said that there is a certain segment of allottees who apply for a shack solely with the purpose of subletting. Ninety per cent of the shacks are allotted to applicants having a three-year and plus experience and 10% to new entrants or those with a less than three years of experience. “Over the years, the number of eligible applicants has gone up while the number of beach shacks has remained static. Not surprisingly, competition has intensified,” the shack operator said. When a regular shack operator is not allotted a shack, he or she will rent a shack by paying Rs 3 to 4 lakh for a season,” he said. Every year, 340 to 350 beach shacks are allotted. The number may reduce for a beach stretch due to soil erosion or any other damage to the beach. As per the existing policy, shacks are allotted through a lottery every three years. The three-year validity of licences issued ends this season as also the Beach Shack Policy. For the 2022-23 season, the government will release a new shack policy paving the way for fresh allotments.

Since shacks do not fall under GST, it is not possible to prove illegalities
Complete taxi meter installation quickly, fitment agencies ordered
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: The transport department has directed both the agencies involved in fitting digital meters — Rosmerta Auto Tech Pvt Ltd and Securinex Pvt Ltd — to speed up installation “in order to complete the process of fitment of digital fare meters as quickly as possible”. “It is observed that till October 31, 2021, you have booked 3,973 numbers and installed 1,178 numbers, which shows that you have not maintained the gap of 500 numbers from bookings and fitments,” transport director Rajan Satardekar stated in a communication to Securinex Pvt Ltd. He directed the agency to take proactive steps to improve inventory, time taken to fit meters and complete installation, and increase fitment/capacity centres. With regard to Rosmerta Auto Tech Pvt Ltd, the department stated that it has booked 3,101 numbers and installed 2,818 numbers “which is far from satisfactory”. The department directed the agency to “take proactive steps to reach taxi owners/associations for taking more bookings and improve inventory and increase fitment/capacity centres so that fitments done per day are increased”. After finding that bookings have been piling up and in order to take steps to deal with the backlog and increase the pace of installations, the department held a meeting with the two agencies and, after discussions, issued the directions. The department submitted to the high court on November 19 that it has passed an order on Friday directing that tourist vehicle permits/All Goa tourist vehicle permits of vehicles without digital fare meters be “cancelled immediately”. Enforcement agencies have started checking taxis to ascertain whether digital fare meters have been installed and submitted that 1,457 vehicles were found to have not installed meters and were issued challans with permit holders given the option of installing meters within one month. All violations will be entered in the Parivahan database, the high court was told. Observing that the installation of digital meters should take approximately 15 days, the high court has called for another status report to be submitted on December 13. The high court is monitoring the fitment of digital fare meters in taxis after the travel and tourism association of Goa and other tourism stakeholders filed their second contempt petition in two years over non-installation of digital meters in taxis.

Complete taxi meter installation quickly, fitment agencies ordered
Tourism dept to convert its Kesarval property into stray dog facility
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: Goa Tourism has decided to put its Kesarval property to unique use by planning a stray dog management facility and shelter in a bid to help tackle the canine menace across the state, particularly at beaches. Dog shows and allied events will also be held there for tourists and animal lovers. A tender for the selection of an agency to set up and operate the facility — which will also sport a cafeteria and restaurant — will be floated soon, a senior tourism department official said. The facility will be operated through a voluntary organisation working for the welfare of animals and has not been planned with the sole objective of generating revenue. The official said that although the project is not directly related to the tourism ministry, it will be used to help curb the stray dog menace that the department of animal husbandry and civic bodies have not had much success with thus far. “Tourists are also affected by the menace of stray dogs. We were of the opinion that there has to be dedicated place where such dogs can be lodged and looked after,” the official said. “Different breeds of dogs could also be accommodated there and it could turn into a tourist attraction.” Although the plan was conceived more than a year ago, it could not be implemented due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the official said even as he hoped that it would not be objected to since the property is in proximity to the Verna industrial estate.

Tourism dept to convert its Kesarval property into stray dog facility
State to cancel licences of taxis without digital meters
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: The state transport department has passed an order on Friday cancelling tourist vehicle permits of all the vehicles which do not have digital fare meters with GPS and printer installed. In the order, the director of transport stated that the licences of vehicles without meters be “cancelled immediately”. “The registered owner is further directed to surrender the permit in the office of State Transport Authority, directorate of transport, Junta House, Panaji, within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order,” transport director Rajan Satardekar stated in the order. The transport department submitted to the high court that 5,732 taxis have been fitted with the digital fare meters and that enforcement agencies have issued challans to 1,457 vehicles who have not installed the meters. They also stated that they are checking taxis to ascertain whether the meters have been installed. “The permit holder will have the option of installing the meter within one month if the offence is to be compounded, failing which, the proceedings will continue before the magistrate,” Satardekar submitted to the high court. With the number of bookings piling up, the directorate of transport called for a meeting of the two agencies carrying out installation of digital meters to increase the pace of installations. Both the agencies were directed to take proactive steps to improve inventory and increase fitment capacity so that the process of installation can be completed at the earliest. The transport department stated that the process of enforcement will continue and that it will also continue to monitor the process of installation of the meters by the two agencies. The high court has been monitoring the installation of digital fare meters after petitions and contempt petitions were filed by the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa and other tourism stakeholders highlighting the government’s dragging of feet over the issue.

State to cancel licences of taxis without digital meters
HC asks shack owner to abide by noise rules
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: The high court of Bombay at Goa has asked a shack owner/operator at Anjuna to file an undertaking in the court stating that he will comply with the rules and regulations with respect to noise pollution. “On the next date, Domingos Alexio Fernandes, against whom allegations were made by the petitioner with respect to loud music beyond impermissible decibels and time, to file an undertaking stating therein that he will comply with the rules and regulations with respect to noise pollution,” the division bench comprising Justices Revati Mohite Dere and M S Jawalkar stated. The high court is hearing a public interest petition seeking enforcement of provisions of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, and Goa Tourism Shack Policy to stop and abate noise and sound pollution in Anjuna-Vagator. Petitioner Sagardeep Sirsaikar is also seeking action to prosecute and punish offenders, revocation of permissions and sealing premises of those found violating noise pollution rules. Sirsaikar submitted to the HC that he made numerous complaints to the authorities and submitted to the HC that despite the deputy collector of Bardez at Mapusa issuing a showcause notice to Chronicle/Glory Shack, it continues to play music at high decibels. He filed a representation with the North Goa collector informing him about the ill effects of noise pollution on residents of the locality and inaction of police officials and highlighted about parties held on November 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 at Vagator Ozran beach. The deputy collector granted permission for the parties between 8pm and 10 pm, but the noise continued. He submitted a video clip of a rave party at Ozran beach to the HC and sent a legal notice to the deputy collector and Anjuna police station PI. The high court took Sirsaikar’s affidavit on record and directed that notice be issued to Fernandes, proprietor of Glory Shack. Sirsaikar was represented by Adv Nigel Costa Frias with Adv Gaurish Malik.

HC asks shack owner to abide by noise rules
Sawant a puppet, Dhond running show in Goa, claims TMCs Moitra
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Margao: Trinamool Congress’ Goa in-charge Mahua Moitra on Saturday accused chief minister Pramod Sawant of being a puppet in the hands of BJP organising secretary Satish Dhond who, she said, was actually controlling the affairs of the state government. “In Goa, there is no mukhya mantri. There is a maha mantri whose name everybody is scared to take. (He is) Satish Dhond, referred to as the sanghatan mantri. Sawant is a puppet, Dhond is controlling everything. How is this person, who is not a minister, who hasn’t taken oath of secrecy, entering government meetings?” Moitra alleged while addressing reporters. Accusing BJP of nepotism, Moitra said that several projects in the tourism sector were being awarded to firms which are “in close cohoots” with Dhond. “Nobody dares to ask these questions in Goa because everybody is mixing with everybody.” Moitra further called into question the failure of both the Goa MPs in raising “a single Goa-specific issue” in parliament. She hit out against the government over the Rs 49 cr Kala Academy renovation controversy. She also demanded the demolition of the illegal structure built at an ASI-protected heritage site in Old Goa. “In April 2021, the existing structure, or the hut, was demolished and today, in November, an 840 sqm villa has been set up by Manish Munot who is associated with the BJP. I am asking this to the chief minister and the Prime Minister, how are you allowing this?” she said. Over the three Centre-sponsored linear infrastructure projects, Moitra cited the Central Empowered Committee report to the Supreme Court which states that there is “no justification of these projects in the protected area.” Alleging that all other parties have failed to take any issue to their successful resolution, Moitra said “What is the point of raising issues when nothing is being done about it. Congress has done nothing all these years. They raise an issue, but nothing happens on ground. Other parties in Goa are in cahoots with BJP. I promise to raise all these Goa-specific issues in Parliament next week.”

Sawant a puppet, Dhond running show in Goa, claims TMCs Moitra
Goa: Now, Sunburn to be held on smaller scale, say organisers
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

PANAJI: After chief minister Pramod Sawant announced on Wednesday that he has denied permission to host the electronic dance music festival Sunburn at Vagator next month, its organisers said on Friday that instead of a mega event, they will hold a smaller event from December 27 to 29. “Bearing in mind the improving situation and with nightlife and events slowly making a comeback, Percept has tied up with Hilltop, Vagator, to produce a smaller, limited capacity Sunburn from December 27-29 at Hilltop, Vagator,” read a statement by Percept Live. Under advice from the government of Goa, it was decided to not pursue a mega festival any further due to the Covid pandemic, the organisers said. ‘No permission as BJP afraid third wave may mar its image’The smaller event, the organisers said, “is being organised with the support of the requisite authorities. The planning for the same is under way”. Last year, the government had withdrawn permission granted to the electronic dance music festival after public outcry, coupled with protests by Congress. This year, the application was kept pending for over four months even as Percept Live had started marketing the event and tickets were sold with a condition that only people who are vaccinated will be allowed. The denial of permission for the event came as a surprise to many as all other tourism-related activities, including casinos, are functioning at full capacity. A source said that the government has denied per mission for the event as it does not want to give another tool to the opposition and hold it responsible if a third wave erupts. “BJP’s government’s image took a massive beating during the second wave as over 2,000 people died as it failed to manage the pandemic. It can’t afford another blow with just two months left for assembly polls. It will be suicidal even as the pandemic situation is under control now,” he said.

Goa: Now, Sunburn to be held on smaller scale, say organisers
  • Sunburn will not be allowed in Goa this year, says CM Pramod Sawant
  • Times of India

    Panaji: Chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Wednesday that the electronic dance music (EDM) festival Sunburn won’t happen in Goa this year. However, tourism minister Manohar Agjaonkar said that once Goa’s eligible population is covered with both doses of the vaccine, the festival can be held in January or February next year. After the CM, post-cabinet meeting, said that it has been decided not to grant permission for the festival, Ajgaonkar said he hadn’t been informed about the decision. However, he added that it was the “right decision” given the pandemic situation. “We have not given permission to hold Sunburn this time,” said Sawant. “We are not having Sunburn this year. I have cancelled it. I have already made the note on the file and have sent it back.” The festival organisers had announced on October 24 that they would hold the EDM on December 28, 29 and 30 this year at Vagator, with limited entry. Ajgaonkar explained that he had sent the proposal to hold Sunburn for the chief minister’s approval, as he felt the situation was conducive for it. “Whether any event should take place or not, the final call is with the CM,” he said. “There is a pandemic, and he knows better what the exact situation is like. We had approved the file and sent it to the CM to take the call. CM must have taken the decision because he thinks the situation is not right for it. According to me, the situation was right.” He said that at Sunburn, the crowd runs in lakhs. “We should not think of profit and loss at this moment,” he said. “We have to give priority to save Goans’ lives. Once the entire Goa population is covered with both doses of the vaccine, any event can take place in the state. Until then, we are not safe. If the vaccination target is achieved by January-February, the event can take place. Those coming in for the fest should also have taken both doses. The show must go on.” He said the chief minister has possibly taken the decision respecting the wishes of the local people. “What the people want has to happen in the end,” Ajgaonkar said. “The CM has taken the decision by studying the entire situation. I cannot take any decision on my own without the CM’s approval. CM had not told me that he would not give approval. His decision is final.”

  • No Sunburn Festival This Year As Well, Says Goa CM Pramod Sawant
  • News18

    (Image: News18)The Goa government on Wednesday said it will not grant permission to organise the 15th edition of the Sunburn EDM festival, slated to be held in December. "The state government has refused the permission to host the Sunburn festival in Goa. I have already signed the file refusing the permission," Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told reporters after chairing a state cabinet meeting refusing to elaborate. The 15th edition of the Sunburn Festival was slated for December this year at Vagator with the organisers announcing that only fully vaccinated participants will be allowed. Meanwhile, Goa Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said it is the CM's prerogative whether to refuse or allow permission to organise the Sunburn festival. We have to respect the decision of the chief minister," he said. Sunburn is a commercial electronic dance music festival held in India.Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Coronavirus News here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Telegram.

BJP workers should maintain Parrikars josh till polls: Nadda
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: BJP national president J P Nadda on Thursday said Goa is nearing the 100% vaccination mark of both doses under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has allowed tourism to grow in Goa. Nadda said that chief minister Pramod Sawant has done well in carrying on the legacy of former defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who had dreamt of a golden Goa. Sawant successfully continued with Parrikar’s development agenda, Nadda said, adding that the PM has a special affection for Goa. He was addressing karyakarta melavas in Valpoi and Bicholim. “Goa is one of the first states to have completed 100% coverage of the first dose of vaccine and very soon we will see to it that BJP workers go house-to-house to ensure that Goa achieves 100% coverage of second dose also. The impact this is having is that tourism, which was on the decline during the pandemic, is growing. This is because Pramod Sawant and (health minister) Vishwajit Rane have been slogging for this,” Nadda said. He said that Goa’s tourism footfalls have gone up from 15% during the early days of the pandemic to 80%. “I evoke the memory of Manohar Parrikar today, who dreamt of a golden Goa. He dedicated his life for the people of Goa so that there is development, progress and betterment here. I remember when he inspected the Atal Setu with life support during his illness and had asked ‘how’s the josh?’. I want to assure his ‘atma’ that every worker of the BJP will maintain the ‘josh’,” Nadda said. He said new parties are knocking on Goa’s doors and trying to lure the people. “Ask them what state West Bengal is in today? In Delhi, all facilities are being provided by the Centre and the government there is only claiming credit,” he said, criticising TMC and AAP.

BJP workers should maintain Parrikars josh till polls: Nadda
Showers to continue in Goa for five days from tomorrow: IMD
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: There appears to be no relief from unseasonal rain and thunderstorms that disrupted a wide range of activities in the state, including agriculture and tourism, as India meteorological department (IMD), Panaji, has forecast similar weather for the next five days beginning Saturday. “With the possibility of change in weather patterns, rainfall or thunder shower activity is very likely from around Sunday over both districts of Goa,” a bulletin issued by the IMD on Wednesday stated. While the conditions will favour light to moderate rain or thunder showers for about five days, thunderstorms accompanied by lightning are likely over one or two places during this period. More than normal rainfall during October and November has lifted the post-monsoon total to 425.4mm. At this stage, a rainfall of 191mm is considered normal. Thus, the surplus has swelled to 123%. In November, a series of systems, three depressions and one well-marked low pressure area have triggered spells of rain during the first six days of the month and recently. A new circulation near southeast Arabian Sea, due to which winds will turn easterly from Saturday and later a trough that is likely to extend from it towards eastcentral Arabian Sea will trigger another wet spell. Rain activity has continued almost throughout the year as the state witnessed hail storms in a few places during the fag end of winter anomalously as well as an unusually high quantum of pre-monsoon rainfall and a couple of cyclones during the monsoon season.

Showers to continue in Goa for five days from tomorrow: IMD
Goa: Michael Lobo opposes handing over of Fort Aguada ops to pvt agency
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: Ports minister and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo has opposed a proposal to hand over operations and maintenance of the renovated Fort Aguada “lock, stock and barrel” to a private agency. He raised objections when the proposal to appoint Drishti Lifesaving for the same was placed before the cabinet. Lobo said he would oppose tooth and nail any move to give complete possession of the renovated fort to a private agency, but he is not against appointing merely a cleaning agency, as well as for operations of the light and music show. Lobo said that CM Pramod Sawant was convinced by his explanation of why the government must retain control of the fort where Indian freedom fighters as well as those who fought for the Liberation of Goa were placed. Part of the fort was used as a jail for political prisoners. “With me raising objections, the proposal was deferred for discussion to the next cabinet meeting. I was also backed by deputy chief minister Chandrakant Kavalekar,” Lobo told reporters. The government has spent around Rs 25 crore under the Swadesh Darshan scheme to renovate and repair the fort. It is expected to be thrown open to the public on December 19, when PM Narendra Modi will inaugurate it. Lobo said that when the government has spent crores of rupees to renovate it, it doesn’t make sense giving it up to a private party, especially to an agency that’s involved in lifeguarding. “Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) is such a big corporation, why couldn’t it post staff to operate a ticketing counter?” he asked, adding that the amount of Rs 1.2 crore the agency would pay to GTDC annually is a pittance. “I smell a rat in this proposal. There has been a mistake in arriving at an amount that the appointed agency will pay to GTDC. I can pay Rs 1.2 crore a month if given operations of the historic fort.” Tourism minister Manohar Ajgaonkar, however, said that there was no attempt on the part of the government to give control of the fort to any third party. “In fact, for receiving funding under the Central scheme, one of the conditions was that an agency had to be appointed for operations and maintenance. The agency was finalised through tendering,” Ajgaonkar told reporters.

Goa: Michael Lobo opposes handing over of Fort Aguada ops to pvt agency
Rain hits shacks biz, operators lament losses
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Calangute: The continuing unseasonal rain this month has badly hit the beach shacks in the Calangute-Candolim tourism belt. “Many of the shack roofs are caving in because of the rain. Mine partially came down and other shacks at Baga also suffered damage to their roofs. We cover the thatched roofs with plastic sheets, but all the roofs are not sloping, so the water does not drain immediately. Some parts are flat, so the water accumulates and then the roof collapses with the weight,” John Lobo, general secretary of the Shacks Owners Welfare Society (SOWS), said. Besides damage to the shacks, workers have to also remove tables, deck beds and umbrellas whenever it rains, shack owners said. Although there are a large number of domestic tourists visiting the coastal belt, shacks are getting fewer tourists because of the inclement weather. “It’s a very bad situation. We were hoping for a good season after two bad seasons. But the rain has brought bad luck. There is no business at all,” Manuel Cardozo, president of the Traditional Shacks Owners Association, said. With foreign charter tourist flights yet to resume, some beach shack owners have not yet started to erect their shacks, while some others have begun setting up their shacks hoping business is good during the peak December-January season. “First, they (government) said charter tourism will start in November. Now, they’re saying charters will come in December. We’re hoping they come. Otherwise it will be a complete loss again,” Cardozo said.

Rain hits shacks biz, operators lament losses
Pandemic blow blunted due to domestic tourism: Shripad
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: Domestic tourism is helping to soften the post-pandemic economic blow which is why it is crucial for Goa to bring back tourists as soon as possible, said minister of state for tourism, ports, shipping and waterways Shripad Naik on Friday. Speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industry conference on Nautical Tourism, Naik said that tourism and hospitality sectors are expected to “definitely rebound to the pre-Covid levels in the next two-three years. “There is a need for Goa to focus on nautical tourism as the way forward,” said Naik. “Goa has a great potential to become a natural marine hub and cater to these high-end tourists on sailing boats.” CII aims to push nautical tourism in Goa in order to give a boost to Goa’s revenue and employment. Panelists at the conference spoke about developing Goa as a home base for cruise vessels, which would lead to the development of ancillary services and attract cruise vessels to the state. Industry stakeholders agreed that this proposition was achievable for Goa but it requires the concerted efforts to improve infrastructure and the regulatory environment. Chairman in charge, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) Jayant Singh said that an accommodative regulatory stance can help drive nautical tourism not just in Goa, but across the country. Tourism secretary J Ashok Kumar urged local barge operators to explore the possibility of converting barges into floating restaurants and to hold events. “There are many people who have become jobless and there are lots of barges lying unutilised and getting rusted. Also we are trying to work out a strategy or a scheme whereby these barges can be utilised for floating events, which will be a new tourism product,” Kumar said.

Pandemic blow blunted due to domestic tourism: Shripad
Jetty mgmt policy for tourism devpt set to be notified
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: The tourism department’s jetty management policy, which has been in the works for close to a year, is finally nearing completion and will be notified soon, said secretary for tourism J Ashok Kumar on Friday. Kumar said that the tourism department has already issued a work order to a private firm to revamp the Santa Monica jetty, and a similar effort is on to upgrade other jetties in the state so that they can be used for passenger commute and tourism. Kumar also announced that the state government has approved the notification of the Goa tourism board, which will have equal representation from the tourism industry. He said that the first meeting of the board is slated for early December. “There are various authorities who are involved in managing the affairs of the jetties in the state, we have captain of ports, tourism department and fisheries department. We are looking to have a policy which will regulate the affairs of tourism-related activities on these jetties. It will be notified soon,” said Kumar, speaking at a conference on nautical tourism organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry. Kumar said that the upgradation of the Santa Monica jetty, which is being done through private participation, will take close to two years. “There are a few jetties which are there either underutilised or unutilised... we need to ensure that these jetties are utilised to the maximum possible extent,” said Kumar. He said that inputs provided by CII and stakeholders from the tourism department are being incorporated in the tourism master plan and the tourism policy. “We have also been able to get the approval of the government for notifying the Goa tourism board, an industry-driven policy and program which will cater to the development of tourism in the state of Goa,” said Kumar.

Jetty mgmt policy for tourism devpt set to be notified
‘Non-issuance of e-visas to UK tourists may impact bookings’
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: Even as the Union government has started issuing visas to travellers from the UK, British tourists planning holidays to Goa aren’t likely to have a smooth ride here. Since India does not provide them e-visas, they are left with no option but to visit their local high commission office for a visa. “It is not easy to get a visa. Goa has a huge number of repeat clients with long stays, and usually they are senior citizens who travel to avoid the harsh winters of England. They are eager to come, but are having difficulties getting visas,” said Ralph de Souza, president, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI). Even as getting the visa isn’t easy, there’s also the pendency of applications to account for, as several Indian expats were unable to visit their home country over the past two years, due to the pandemic. Sources said that the Indian expats too are having problems getting their visas stamped, as processing of applications takes time. “But when tourists apply for visas, they are likely to have to wait for (even) longer,” said de Souza. He added that although India has removed quarantine conditions and permitted vaccinated travellers entry, the crucial factor now is that visas are hard to come by. “The only solution is that India starts issuing e-visas. Otherwise, bookings by tourists are likely to be affected,” he said. The GCCI president said they have made a representation to chief minister Pramod Sawant “to use his good office to intervene in the matter”. The chamber has also sought the help of Union minister Shripad Naik. Interestingly, India is also not issuing e-visas to travellers from Kazakhstan, another country that matters to Goa for tourism. “With regards to the UK, we will again approach the government. If the issue is not sorted out, we will have fewer footfalls from England. If Goa is not available, there are other destinations that offer e-visas,” he said.

‘Non-issuance of e-visas to UK tourists may impact bookings’
GTDC appoints new service provider for multimodal tours
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: After a successful bidding process, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) has appointed M/s Prive Property Management Pvt Ltd, to conduct multimodal experiential tours in the state. These will include activities such as hop-on-hop-off buses and amphibious tour vehicles. While a hop-on-hop-off bus was operational until the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, GTDC’s plan to introduce amphibious vehicles, that operate on sea as well as land, was delayed owing to difficulties faced by the previous service provider in getting mandatory permissions. Now that a new service provider has been selected, GTDC expects to make both services operational during the current season. A tourism official said the hop-on-hop-off service had slowly become quite popular among domestic tourists. A significant number of foreign tourists, too, were seen using the service. A ride on the double decker bus, that offered an air conditioned and an open sky section, was a fun trip for many and a different experience from the coaches or buses that offer tours. “The beauty of this service is that passengers can decide their itinerary. The elements of flexibility and choice make a difference,” he said. Now with the tourism season looking promising, and with the overall pandemic situation largely under control, he said they are hoping to have the bus back on the road soon. The official said that had their plan for the amphibious bus service succeeded in 2016, Goa would have become the first state to have introduced it. However, even after having a trial, the service provider was unable to start the services due to problems in obtaining permissions from various authorities. “With it being a new kind of service in India then, government authorities were reluctant to give permission,” he said. Power Minister Nilesh Cabral, who was the GTDC chairperson then, had tried very hard to get the new service moving.

GTDC appoints new service provider for multimodal tours
After years of neglect, Cabo de Rama fort to get facelift
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: The Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) has proposed to restore and beautify the Cabo de Rama fort, located at South Goa’s Khola village, at an estimated cost of Rs 29.7 crore. The iconic fort, which is one of the largest and oldest in the state and provides a picturesque view of the vast Arabian Sea, is a popular tourist attraction, but has remained neglected. A detailed concept master plan for restoration of the fort walls, with additional amenities such as pathways and beautification, have been included in consultation with the department of archives and archaeology, a GTDC official said. The decision to restore and beautify the fort was approved at the last board meeting. Material such as laterite, natural stones and wood will be used in accordance with archaeological norms. The GTDC’s consultants, together with the department of archives and archaeology, have already prepared drawings and a detailed project report. The Cabo de Rama fort was acquired by the Portuguese from the king of Sonda along with the taluka of Quepem and other areas as part of a treaty in 1763. The Portuguese subsequently rebuilt it. Parts of the structure have now slowly begun giving way due to a lack of maintenance. The area, which lacks basic facilities for visitors, is also constantly littered. Once renovated, the touristic value of the historic structure is expected to enhance substantially given that it falls within the Canacona circuit of the Khola, Palolem, Agonda and Rajbag beaches, and has good connectivity. The GTDC recently completed the restoration and beautification of the Reis Magos fort, along with setting up a museum to showcase Goa’s Liberation movement. It is expected to be thrown open to members of the general public next month.

After years of neglect, Cabo de Rama fort to get facelift
First meeting of tourism board to be held in Dec
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: The first meeting of the Goa Tourism Board — which will be the final authority in deciding tourism-related projects and strategies — is expected to take place in December. The notification constituting it will be out shortly. The cabinet had recently approved the board’s formation with the chief minister as its chairperson and the tourism minister as its co-chairperson. The board will pave the way for implementing the tourism master plan and policy and has been the chief feature of the tourism policy that was approved last year. Though the composition of the board was finalised after much deliberation and consultation, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) had requested the government to have it headed by the chief minister instead of the tourism minister a few months ago. The suggestion was made as a broad consensus arose among stakeholders that having the chief minister at the helm of affairs would be prudent and that his presence would help fast-track the projects that may need authorisation and approval of departments other than the tourism ministry. A member of the trade body said that though much time was lost, they are happy the board will become a reality soon. “The board will be the final authority henceforth in deciding projects, promotions and marketing strategies,” the member said. Several trade members had been critical of Goa Tourism over the past few years when funds were utilised mainly to beautify temples and churches due to the insistence of either GTDC or the tourism minister, or sometimes both.

First meeting of tourism board to be held in Dec
Launch of GTDC’s seaplane service delayed yet again
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: Goa tourism’s plan to introduce seaplane service will take some more time to materialise since a three-month extension has been granted to the service provider to submit a detailed project report. After re-tendering for “introduction, operation and management of seaplane service in Goa,” Air Mauryan Services Ltd Services, was selected in July. The extension was granted on the request of the service provider and a decision was taken at Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC)’s last board meeting. A successful bidder has to comply with certain conditions within 45 days from the date of receipt of the letter of award. Considering that it is a challenging task for the service provider to obtain permissions from various authorities, the service’s provider’s request was accepted. The GTDC had floated the idea of launching a seaplane service about five years ago, when it introduced several new tourism services in the state to up the destination’s potential. In 2015, it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Maritime Energy Heli Services Pvt Ltd (MEHAIR) to launch seaplane service. Routes were finalised and a test flight landed in the Mandovi. The service was set to be launched in the following season, but the GTDC’s plan was disrupted as the service provider had some internal issues and failed to stick to the deadline of starting the service, an official said. He said they are confident of launching the new service at least by the next season, if all goes well.“Our biggest concern has been the unwarranted objections by certain people and activists, even where the question of environmental pollution does not arise. If we succeed in having a seaplane service, it will be a great plus in drawing the attention of quality tourists,” he said. The officer said at least as of now, they have not come across any serious opposition to their plan of having seaplane services, but they are cautious, nonetheless.

Launch of GTDC’s seaplane service delayed yet again