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.
As the world moves on, the service sector — travel and tourism business included — is emerging as a major growth engine for the Indian economy. People are once again flying in great numbers, airports are crowded, hotels are well booked, and travellers want to explore, connect and feel alive through the exhilarating emotion of travel. Despite several difficulties and challenging infrastructure and connectivity, the industry has fared extremely well.As India takes on the G20 presidency and starts preparing for the summit in 2023, positioning the country as a safe, tourist-friendly destination hinges on how the government can work together with the industry and provide world-class experiences to visiting dignitaries. Around 300 plus meetings are expected to take place during the summit, most of which will be hosted within the corridors of the finest hotels across the country. Hospitality companies are leaving no stone unturned to showcase India’s cultural essence, and the inherent warmth of Atithi Devo Bhava in our service philosophy. Using the summit to highlight the country’s unique and differentiated travel offerings, India can claim its position on the world tourism stage.Tourism is seen as a major driving force for any economy. It has a multiplier effect on associated industries like hospitality. The spillover of earnings from tourism into other industries not only improves economic conditions but also enhances the standards of living of the local population. This is most apparent at the popular beach destination of Goa. Contributing over 16 per cent to the GDP and 35 per cent to direct employment within the state as per the IBEF Report 2022, the domino effect of the sector on indirect job creation is unrivalled. Moreover, what is often unseen are the tertiary tangible and intangible impacts on livelihoods — for instance, the maintenance of Fort Aguada and beaches in the vicinity and the preservation of cultural heritage and the local way of life at the many homestays across Goa. Today, led by tourism, Goa leads the nation in per capita NSDP (Net State Domestic Product) as per the RBI.As per trends, every hotel room generates five to seven jobs, both directly and indirectly, further leading to a significant impact on other high-employability sectors such as real estate and infrastructure. In fact, according to the latest World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report, the sector is expected to create nearly 126 million new jobs globally within the next decade with at least 20 per cent of these from the Indian subcontinent. However, government support will be instrumental in achieving this. With Indian companies reporting positive earnings this fiscal, the sector is poised to potentially grow three times compared to the pre-pandemic levels to touch $250 billion by 2030 and further accelerate to reach $1 trillion by 2047.The travel and tourism industry is constantly evolving, catering to rapidly changing consumer demands by creating several product options, elevating customer experiences, and continuing to deliver innovative digital solutions. If this were to be supported with improved infrastructural reforms, it could make travellers’ journeys even more memorable and seamless. A capital-intensive industry, the hospitality sector needs to continually plough back to keep the ball rolling.A good start will be the Centre according “infrastructure” status to the sector, which will boost the industry, incorporating required incentives including regulatory ease, cheaper loans, tax concessions and contributing to a cycle of attracting more investments. In addition, industry status at the state and Union territories-level and augmenting the infrastructure growth will also have a much-needed positive impact. States like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have taken the lead, and more should follow suit. India’s growth story remains immensely encouraging. On the back of strong consumer demand, travel and tourism offers promising growth and are at an important inflection point.Hospitality companies have consistently added supply across all segments — budget, business and luxury hotels, homestays, villas and so forth — by developing new circuits and offerings that tap into the diverse and myriad potential of Incredible India.Through collective action between industry stakeholders and government, we can undoubtedly shape an even more thriving future for the industry — one that can have a positive impact on the economy and society at large.The writer is president, Hotel Association of India (HAI) and chairman, CII National Committee on Tourism and Hospitality. Views are personal
The Centre on Thursday stayed all tourism activities at the Parasnath Hill where the Jain religious site ‘Sammed Shikharji’ is located and directed the Jharkhand government to immediately take all steps necessary to protect its sanctity.The Union Environment Ministry sent an office memorandum to the state in this regard following directions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sources said.The development comes after Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav met representatives of the Jain community over the issue earlier in the day and assured them that the government is “committed to maintain the sanctity of ‘Sammed Shikharji Parvat Kshetra’ which is a holy place not only for the Jain community but for the entire country”.Sammed Shikharji, located on the Parasnath Hill in Giridih district of Jharkhand, is the biggest pilgrimage centre of the Jain community.Members of the community had been protesting against the state government’s move to promote religious tourism at Parasnath Hill.In August 2019, the environment ministry had notified an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around the Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary and approved eco-tourism activities in pursuance of the proposal submitted by the state government.The ministry, in a statement, said it has received several representations from different organizations representing the Jain community about the issues related to “certain activities taking place at Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary which have adversely affected the sentiments of followers of Jain Dharma”.“The grievances mention the faulty implementation of provisions of the ESZ notification by the Jharkhand government. It has been mentioned that such negligence by state authorities has hurt their sentiments,” the ministry said.ESZs act as “shock absorbers” to protected areas by prohibiting, regulating and promoting activities around them.“The ESZ notification is not intended to promote uncontrolled tourism, and definitely not to promote all kinds of development activities within a sanctuary boundary. Declaration of ESZ is in fact to restrict or regulate activities surrounding the sanctuary and, therefore, outside its boundary,” the ministry clarified.In the memorandum issued to the additional chief secretary of the Jharkhand government’s forest department, the ministry said the “implementation of provisions of clause 3 of the said eco-sensitive zone notification is stayed forthwith, including amongst others all tourism and eco-tourism activities”.The state government is directed to immediately take all steps necessary to ensure the same, it said.Meanwhile, representatives of different Jain groups held a press conference to thank Prime Minister Modi for the decision which, they said, will ensure that the sanctity of their most sacred pilgrimage site is maintained.“Our concerns have been addressed and the issue has been resolved to our satisfaction,” they said in a statement.The environment ministry said the Central government recognizes the sanctity of Sammed Shikharji Parvat Kshetra and “significance for the Jain community as well as the nation at large; and reiterates its commitment towards maintaining the same”.“In this regard, the state government is directed to immediately take all steps necessary to strictly enforce the provisions of clause 7.6.1 of the Management Plan of the Parasnath Wildlife Sanctuary which protects the whole Parasnath Hill; categorically prohibiting amongst others, activities such as the selling of liquor, drugs, and other intoxicants,” the memo read.The state government should also strictly enforce the ban on the sale and consumption of liquor and non-vegetarian food items on Parasnath Hill, it said.The implementation of the management plan will also prevent people from playing loud music or using loudspeakers; defiling sites of religious and cultural significance such as sacred monuments, lakes, rocks, caves, and shrines; damaging flora or fauna; causing environmental pollution; committing injurious acts to forests, water bodies, plants, animals, or disturbing the natural tranquillity of such sites; coming with pet animals; and unauthorised camping and trekking on the Parasnath Hill.For effective monitoring of the provisions of the ESZ notification, the Centre has also constituted a monitoring committee which will have two members from the Jain community and one from the local tribal community as permanent invitees.
MOPA: Low cost airline Go First (formerly known as GoAir) started operations from Goa’s second international airport, the Manohar International Airport on Thursday. The airline’s first flight, G8 2123 departed from Mopa at 10:35am and landed at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport Hyderabad.The airline will operate 42 non-stop weekly flights between Mopa and Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Nagpur and Chandigarh. The domestic airline also said that it will continue its operations from the Goa International airport at Dabolim. Go First said that the flights from the Manohar International Airport will further enhance its domestic connectivity with tier II cities. “It gives us immense pleasure to commence operations from this latest addition, Mopa to our domestic network,” said Kaushik Khona, the chief executive officer of Go First. “Although Goa is a preferred leisure destination, this network will facilitate convenient and seamless travel for locals along with tourists. While we continue to augment our operations, Go First is resolutely committed to providing customers a promising flying experience.” Go First’s maiden flight was inaugurated by Union minister for Tourism and Ports, Shipping and Waterways Shripad Yesso Naik in the presence of GMR Group officials.The new flight connectivity will also ease direct travel to North Goa.
PUNE: IndiGo on Thursday announced commencement of operations from Manohar International Airport in Mopa. "The operations commenced with direct flight between Hyderabad and Goa making it the 76th domestic and 102nd overall destination in its network," airline officials said.The will operate 168 weekly flights between Mopa and 8 domestic destinations like Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Jaipur, and Ahmedabad right from the start at the first day of operations. The new network will cater to the increasing demand owing to the popularity of Goa as a preferred leisure travel destination and will provide more options to the customers, making travel more affordable and enhancing direct connectivity to north Goa. The present Dabolim Airport in south Goa will remain active and IndiGo would continue its existing operations there.Speaking on the occasion, Pieter Elbers, chief executive officer, IndiGo said, “We are excited and proud with this largest ever, new station opening for us at New North Goa International Airport in Mopa. It’s momentous for us at IndiGo to have such a massive opening and it speaks to our ambition and endeavor to provide connectivity, ease of accessibility and ever more options for our customers to one of the most visited tourist destinations of the country. We continue to stay true to our promise of affordable fares, on-time performance, courteous and hassle-free service, connecting people with places they love."First trial landing conducted at new Mopa international airport in GoaWatch First flight lands at Goa's Manohar International Airport
PUNE: IndiGo on Thursday announced commencement of operations from Manohar International Airport in Mopa. "The operations commenced with direct flight between Hyderabad and Goa making it the 76th domestic and 102nd overall destination in its network," airline officials said.#Goa: People dance at the new airport in Mopa as it starts domestic flight operations from today. #MopaAirport https://t.co/UYSXa9cVpa— TOI Goa (@TOIGoaNews) 1672890547000The will operate 168 weekly flights between Mopa and 8 domestic destinations like Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Jaipur, and Ahmedabad right from the start at the first day of operations. The new network will cater to the increasing demand owing to the popularity of Goa as a preferred leisure travel destination and will provide more options to the customers, making travel more affordable and enhancing direct connectivity to north Goa. The present Dabolim Airport in south Goa will remain active and IndiGo would continue its existing operations there.Speaking on the occasion, Pieter Elbers, chief executive officer, IndiGo said, “We are excited and proud with this largest ever, new station opening for us at New North Goa International Airport in Mopa. It’s momentous for us at IndiGo to have such a massive opening and it speaks to our ambition and endeavor to provide connectivity, ease of accessibility and ever more options for our customers to one of the most visited tourist destinations of the country. We continue to stay true to our promise of affordable fares, on-time performance, courteous and hassle-free service, connecting people with places they love."
PANAJI: The Manohar International airport, Mopa, will have taxis of a different colour — blue — to “avoid confusion”, said minister of transport Mauvin Godinho. The airport will have the special taxis in addition to app-based taxis and other modes of transport.“These cabs will be painted blue in colour and will be very unique in our tourism state. These will operate from the Mopa airport and will be only for the Pernemcars,” he said. In addition, there will be app-based taxis and six electric buses run by the Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) to ferry passengers. “So far 50 taxis have registered with us. Enough taxis and KTC buses are going to be there to transport passengers from the airport. Additionally, we will be launching the blue cabs along the lines of the yellow-black taxis. We are floating an expression of interest (EOI) for interested operators to register,” Godinho said. He said that the separate colour will help regulate the taxi service and help users identify the airport’s taxis. The transport minister also warned tourist taxi operators against making attempts to disrupt the operations at Mopa.“If someone tries to play mischief, we have taken enough care to maintain law and order. We will come down with a very heavy hand. Gone are the old days where they used to force their wheel on others,” he said.
PANAJI: The Manohar International airport, Mopa will have differently-colored taxis, called blue taxis operating from the new airport in addition to app-based taxis and other modes of transport. “These cabs will be painted blue in colour and will be very unique in our tourism state. These will operate from the Mopa airport and will be only for the Pernemcars (people of Pernem),” said transport minister Mauvin Godinho.The minister also warned tourist taxi operators against attempts to disrupt the operations at Mopa. “Gone are the old days where they used to force their wheel on others,” he said.
PM Modi had inaugurated the first phase of the new airport on December 11, 2022.Panaji: The first passenger flight arrived at the Manohar International Airport in Goa from Hyderabad on Thursday, marking the commencement of operations at the new facility in the coastal state.The IndiGo flight from Hyderabad landed at 9 am at the new airport located at Mopa in North Goa district, airport officials said.Union Minister Shripad Naik and Goa Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte were present to welcome the passengers at the terminal building of the airport.Mr Naik and Mr Khaunte also presented symbolic dummy boarding passes to passengers scheduled to travel to Hyderabad in another IndiGo flight, the first one to take off from the new airport in Goa on Thursday.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the first phase of the new airport on December 11, 2022.The airport has been named after late Manohar Parrikar, the former defence minister who had also served as the chief minister of Goa.With Mopa, Goa has got another international airport which is located 50 km apart from the south Goa-based Dabolim facility, operated as a civil enclave in the Indian Navy's air station INS Hansa.The first phase of the Rs 2,870 crore Mopa airport project will cater to around 44 lakh passengers per annum, which can be expanded to a saturation capacity of 33 MPPA, an official earlier said.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe airport has been built on the theme of sustainable infrastructure and has a solar power plant, green buildings, LED lights on the runway, rainwater harvesting, state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant with recycling facilities, among other such facilities.It has adopted some of the best-in-class technologies like 3-D Monolithic Precast buildings, StabilRoad, Robomatic Hollow precast walls, and 5G compatible IT infrastructure. PTI RPS GK GKFeatured Video Of The DayWill Rahul Gandhi's Yatra Help Congress In UP? What Voters Say
Panaji: The flow of charters to Goa from Russia may have increased after the initial uncertainty, but the sunshine state is still not the preferred holiday destination among Russian tourists, who have been flocking to Thailand instead and even Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Turkey, all of which offer hassle-free entry. Up until the Covid-19 pandemic, Goa received the highest number of tourists — both charters and foreign independent travellers — from Russia. But now, apart from delays in processing e-visas, the recent non-acceptance of Indian tour operators’ cards towards payments of tourist visa fees on behalf of their Russian clientele appears to have further discouraged Russian tourists.Vice-president of Concord Exotic Voyages Sheikh Ismail said it is only natural for tour operators to turn to other holiday destinations when there are problems with visa-processing in India.“Thailand, for instance, offers visas on arrival, making it much easier for travellers, particularly those who plan their holidays at the last minute,” he said.Russians cannot pay e-visa fees in USD, he explained, due to Western sanctions following the war with Ukraine that have resulted in the suspension of their international cards. “Indian tour operators then paid for their clients, but over the past two days, payments by Indian tour operators have also not been accepted on the e-visa site. Over 300 visa applications are pending approval,” said Ismail.With the latest hurdle, they are unaware of what’s to be done even as the Union ministry of external affairs and other authorities have been apprised of the problem.“State Bank of India has stopped accepting cards issued in India. Also, the Axis Bank server has been down since December 30, 2022 and is not accepting fee payments,” the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) stated in a letter to the MEA. It further said that if the problem is not resolved immediately, tour operators stand to lose business and the country, foreign exchange earnings. It has sought a rapid alternative arrangement allowing Russian tourists to pay e-visa fees in roubles instead of USD.“India offers e-visa to Russians, but it takes three to four days to get it done. Thailand, on the other hand, offers visas on arrival,” said Anupam Kumar, director at Caper Travel India Pvt Ltd. Also, with the current Goan tourist season having passed its peak, stakeholders do not anticipate a rise in charters from Russia. From the start of the tourism spell, Goa has received one charter a day from Russia with the country’s largest airline, Aeroflot, operating three scheduled flights a week. Ernest Dias, chief operating officer (COO) at SITA, a company that handles significant Russian arrivals, said he does not see any uptick during the remainder of the season in light of the existing problems, while president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, Nilesh Shah, said the Indian government must deploy more manpower to clear the e-visa applications expeditiously.
Panaji: Contrary to expectations of cheaper flights, flying to Manohar International Airport, appears to be more expensive than landing at Goa International Airport, Dabolim. Ahead of the long Republic Day weekend, flights to the Mopa airport (GOX) are 25-75% costlier than to Dabolim (GOI).The Mopa airport, which was inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi on December 11, is set to commence operations from Thursday. From day-1, airfares from Delhi are marginally higher, with flights to Mopa starting at Rs 5,429, as against Rs 5,138 to Dabolim.On January 25, the cheapest flight from Delhi to Mopa is at Rs 8,350, while flights to Dabolim cost around Rs 6,655 per person. For the R-Day weekend, round trip flights from Delhi to Dabolim and back will cost Rs 15,909 per person. A similar trip for the same weekend but from the the Mopa airport will cost a minimum of Rs 17,412 per person.For perspective, tickets from New Delhi to Dabolim were priced at around Rs 10,500 for December 23 and 24, as against the usual fare of Rs 6,500.January 26, a public holiday, falls on a Thursday, and if one takes Friday off, it is easy to have a four-day weekend.For someone looking to fly from Bengaluru to Goa a day ahead of Republic Day, the flight to Dabolim will cost Rs 4,678 for a direct flight per person. To Mopa , the cheapest flight is Rs 5,375 per person. On a regular day, a flight ticket to Bengaluru from Goa costs Rs 3,500, but it was priced around Rs 7,200 in the run-up to the New Year weekend, which is considered peak time for Goa’s tourism sector.The new international airport, which is around 35km away from the state capital, is counting on its proximity to nightlife and the North Goa coastal belt to woo passengers. The GMR Group, which developed the airport at a cost of around Rs 2,870 crore, estimates that 70% of tourists coming to Goa head to the North Goa coastal belt.While Mopa may enjoy a locational advantage, it also has higher charges — there’s a user development fee (UDF) of Rs 450 on every outbound domestic flyer, and Rs 1,100 on every outbound international flyer.Flights to and from Goa are only set to soar further every year as the UDF increases. In June 2022, the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) hiked Goa International Airport’s (GOI) aeronautical charges levied on airlines and the UDF, which is passed onto flyers.From April 1, 2023, to March 2024, fliers from Dabolim will have to pay a UDF of Rs 430 for domestic flights and Rs 760 for international ones. From financial year 2024-25, the UDF will increase to Rs 495 for domestic flights and Rs 825 for international flights. And in financial year 2025-26, the charges will be Rs 570 (domestic) and Rs 900 (international).
Members of the Jain community in Gujarat recently staged protests in various cities, like Bhavnagar, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat, over their demands related to two holy sites — Shetrunjay hill in Palitana of Gujarat and Sammed Shikhar on Parasnath hill in Jharkhand.Here is how the two controversies erupted and why the protests are being held.The row began over a month ago, when Jagdishchandra Megha (59), the security manager of Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Pedhi (SAKP), an organisation of the Shwetambar section of Jainism, filed a police complaint that someone had vandalised the sacred Adinath Dada’s Pagla in Rohishala village on the intervening night of November 26 and November 27.In his complaint, the security manager stated that after breaking into the premises, the accused vandalised the toes and fingers of Adinath Dada’s Pagla, a marble carving representing the feet of Lord Adinath, the first of the 24 Tirthankars of Jainism. This, the security manager said, hurt the religious sentiments of Jains.Rohishala, located on the southern periphery of Shetrunjay hill, hosts the Adinath Dada’s Pagla. The shrine is one among the dozens of Jain religious places managed by the SAKP. A path leading to Jain temples on top of the Shetrunjay hill starts from near this shrine.Based on Megha’s complaint, the Palitana rural police registered a case against unknown persons under IPC Sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) and 447 (criminal trespass).On December 23, the police claimed to have cracked the case by arresting one Jemal Gohil, a native of Rohishala. The police said Gohil, who worked as a labourer, had entered the shrine with an intent to commit theft but after he found nothing valuable, he struck the pagla with a stone in frustration. Section 379 (theft) of Indian Penal Code was added to the case.While the police were investigating the vandalism case, a dispute broke out between Swami Sharnananda, a local Hindu religious figure, and the SAKP over installing CCTV cameras on the premises of Neelkanth Mahadev Temple atop the Shetrunjay hill. Sharnanada complained to the sub-divisional magistrate of Palitana about the CCTV installations on the premises, which he claimed is a place of worship for Hindus, over which SKAP, a Jain body, can’t exercise control.In the meantime, on December 15, some men removed poles erected on the temple premises for installing the CCTV cameras. The SAKP, which has been paying the salary of the Neelkanth Mahadev temple priest, filed a complaint with Palitana town police that day. Sevem people were arrested on charges under Section 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) and 114 (abettor) of IPC. They are out on bail.The Jains in Gujarat are demanding that the Jain holy site on the Shetrunjay hill and the area around it should be protected to maintain its holiness commensurate with Jainism. One of their major demands is a detailed investigation into the Adinath Dada’s Pagla vandalism.Abhay Shah, spokesperson of Shetrunjay Mahatirth Raksha Samiti, said, “The police claims to have solved the case, saying the motive was theft, but it does not seem convincing to us. Why would one damage only the feet (of the idol) in frustration? We demand formation of a Special Investigation Team to probe the case.”According to Shah, they are also seeking action to check illegal mining and land grabbing around the Shetrunjay hill.In the Jharkhand case, the Jains are seeking the roll-back of a state government decision to develop Sammed Shikhar, located on the Parasnath hill in the Giridih district, as an eco tourist spot.Sammed Shikhar is considered to be among the most important Jain pilgrimage sites, where 20 of the 24 Jain Tirthankars are believed to have attained moksh or salvation.Shah said, “Sammed Shikhar is a place for our penance. If it is developed into a tourist spot, liquor consumption and other menaces associated with tourism will be witnessed here. We want it to remain as a pilgrimage spot, and not a tourism destination. We do not want it to become a hill station, it is a place for our sadhna.”
There are many pilgrimage sites in India, a land of many faiths and spiritual beliefs, and among them is Sammed Shikharji — also known as Sammet Shikharji or simply Shikharji — that is currently engulfed in a tussle. Located in Jharkhand, it is a holy site for the Jain community, which has been protesting lately to overturn a state government decision declaring it as a tourist spot.According to news reports, the tension was fueling for a few weeks now, with the Hemant Soren-led Jharkhand government notifying that the pilgrimage site is a tourist destination. Members of the Jain community have been protesting in many parts of the country; in fact, a delegation even reached Delhi to hand over a letter to the President on Sunday.Jains have been urging the Jharkhand CM to reconsider the decision.Today Jains are observing a one day bandh against Jharkhand govt’s decision to convert Jain’s biggest Teerth Sammed Shikharji into a tourist place. This Teerth saw 20 of our 24 Teerthankar attain Nirvaan. Please express solidarity with our peaceful community. pic.twitter.com/wBC8hboL0P— Ankit Jain (@indiantweeter) December 21, 2022About Sammed ShikharjiThe reason that Sammed Shikharji is so important to the community, and why it does not want the place to turn into an eco-tourism spot, is because — located on the Parasnath hill in the Giridih district of Jharkhand — it is considered to be the biggest pilgrimage site by both the Digambaras and the Svetambaras. It is believed that it is the place where 20 of the 24 Jain tirthankaras, who are Jain spiritual leaders, along with many other monks attained ‘moksha‘ or salvation after meditating.The great musician Ravindra Jain ji has sung this masterpiece years ago for Shri Sammed Shikharji.Shikhar Ji is the Soul of Jain Community !! #SaveShikharji pic.twitter.com/9wbw2cwpIv— Maggi (@JainMaggii) December 24, 2022Parasnath hill is known across the country to be the highest mountain in the state of Jharkhand.The word ‘Shikharji’ in itself means a ‘venerable peak’. Interestingly, the word ‘Parasnath’ comes from ‘Parshvanatha’, the 23rd Jain tirthankara who attained moksha here. According to beliefs of the Jain community, Shikharji is ranked with Ashtapad, Girnar, Dilwara Temples of Mount Abu and Shatrunjaya as the ‘Svetambara Pancha Tirth’ or the five principal pilgrimage shrines.If someone wants to do a pilgrimage of Shikharji, they must start with Palganj on Giridih road, where there is a small shrine dedicated to Parshvanatha. Then, they can make some offerings to the temples of Madhuban located at the base of Parasnath hill. Pilgrims have to cover a long trek of about 27km while doing a circumambulation of Shikharji.The Jain protest also got support from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), whose national spokesperson Vinod Bansal said, “No pilgrim site, as well as beliefs and faith of a community can be hurt in the name of development of the site as a tourist spot. Any development should be done by keeping the identity of the site… A separate ministry should be made to deal with the development of holy sites…”📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!
Rashtrapati Nilayam, the official retreat of the President of India during the first citizen’s annual southern sojourn, is now open to the public, although with restrictions. After two years, visitors are now allowed into the 97-acre sprawling campus in Hyderabad, Telangana, and have a look at the iconic heritage bungalow. Starting Tuesday, people are allowed to visit the campus between 10 am and 5 pm till January 15. Entry is free of cost.Located in Bolarum, the bungalow originally built in the 1850s by Mir Farqunda Ali Khan Nazir-ud-Daulah, the fourth Nizam of Hyderabad, served as the country house of the British Residents before Indian independence. “Before it became the second lodge of British Officer, it was the residence of the Chief Military Officer of the Bolarum cantonment set up during the third Nizam Sikandar Jah’s time. When the British later got into an agreement with the Nizam and their military establishment came up around Secunderabad, this property became the second residence of the British Resident in addition to the Koti Residency,” says Professor Salma Ahmed Farooqui of H K Sherwani Centre for Deccan Studies at Maulana Azad National Urdu University.Sharing another interesting aspect about the Rashtrapati Nilayam in the country’s history, Prof Farooqui adds that KM Munshi, who was the Government of India’s agent-general in Hyderabad in 1948, had briefly stayed at the building. “Just before 1948, telegrams were exchanged between Lord Mountbatten (the last Viceroy and the first Governor-General of India) and the seventh Nizam (Mir Osman Ali Khan) where the former wanted KM Munshi to occupy the Bolarum Residency. Munshi’s role was to assess the ground situation in Hyderabad and share inputs with the then home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. After Hyderabad was merged with the Indian union, the Secunderabad cantonment was handed over to the Indian Army,” she notes.The single-storeyed structure has 16 rooms, including a darbar hall, a dining hall, a cinema hall, a morning room etc, according to the Directorate General Defence Estates (DGDE) website. Apart from the three wings, including the President’s wing, an interesting feature of the building is a 50-metre-long underground tunnel connecting the kitchen and the dining hall, which visitors are allowed to access unlike the interiors of the main building.It has been a tradition for the Presidents of India to spend a week or two at the Rashtrapati Nilayam in December every year. For over a decade now, the campus is being thrown open to the public soon after the President’s departure to Delhi. In the last few years, authorities have developed several gardens, including landscapes with medicinal and aromatic plants, flower gardens, and orchards of mango, pomegranate, amla, sapota, guava etc. As part of her southern sojourn, President Droupadi Murmu arrived in Hyderabad on December 26 and returned on December 30.During her stay, President Murmu visited the temple at Srisailam and Bhadrachalam regarding temple development projects under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive’ (PRASAD) scheme of the Union Ministry of Tourism. She also visited Ramappa temple, which was last year inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and laid the foundation stones for the development of tourism infrastructure at Ramappa Temple and the restoration of Kameshwaralaya Temple.Besides addressing the officer trainees of the 74th batch of IPS at SVP National Police Academy, the President also visited and addressed the students of Keshav Memorial Educational Society, and inaugurated the Wide Plate Mill of Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI) in Hyderabad. She also took part in the Sammakka Saralamma Janjati Pujari Sammelan, organised by the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad–Telangana. Among several other official programmes, the President hosted ‘veer naris’ (widows of Army men) and other dignitaries over lunch at Rashtrapati Nilayam, before returning to Delhi.
Many of the communal new year’s celebrations around the world comprise light shows that include fireworks. The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah in UAE took these celebrations one step ahead when their spectacular pyro-musical presentations broke a previous Guinness World Record and also created a new one.In an Instagram post, the tourism ministry of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah wrote, “We are thrilled to announce that we have officially set two new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS titles for our #RAKNYE2023 pyro-musical show. Securing the title of the ‘largest number of operated multi-rotors/drones with a simultaneous fireworks display’ and setting a brand-new world record for the ‘largest aerial sentence formed by multirotors/drones’, the 12-minute spectacle lit up the sky with a jaw-dropping pyrotechnic performance and larger-than-life fireworks display.” A post shared by Visit Ras Al Khaimah (@visitrasalkhaimah)There were over 670 drones and a myriad collection of nano lights that were perfectly synchronised to music during the 12-minute show. A post shared by Visit Ras Al Khaimah (@visitrasalkhaimah)In another Instagram post, the tourism ministry explained the intricacies of the light and firework presentation and wrote, “Culminating in the highest ever ‘Happy New Year 2023’ message to signal new beginnings, the drones then seamlessly transitioned into the Emirate’s iconic ‘RAKashida’ logo to tie back to the destination.”It also added, “Taking inspiration from the ‘kashida’ concept in Arabic calligraphy – a line that connects letters to form a word – the logo represents the Emirate’s three uniquely recognizable natural elements: the sea, the desert, and the mountains.”Commenting on a video of the fireworks show, an Instagram user wrote, “It was amazing I wish I could have that moment for life”. Another person said, “Best fireworks in the whole entire world amazing ”
Panaji: The state cabinet on Monday approved the new, unified Goa Taxi app to provide better transport facilities to the tourists. Transport minister Mauvin Godinho said taxi owners and operators joining the app will be given a two-year tax waiver.“We will amend the Motor Vehicle Act to alter the tax structure. Those joining the app will not have to pay the relevant taxes to the transport department for the next two years. Those who have already paid will be given a refund,” he said.The government of Goa, through Goa Electronic Limited (GEL), will be the owner of Goa Taxi app.Godinho said the state government will constitute an advisory body having representation from registered taxi unions, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, and the departments of transport and tourism who will periodically meet and advise on the functioning of Goa Taxi App service in order to provide efficient taxi service and implement welfare measures for taxi operators.“A conveyance fee of 10% on the fare amount will be charged towards operational costs and welfare measures. Half of the conveyance fee will be deposited in the escrow account towards welfare measures of taxi owners, drivers and their family members,” the cabinet note stated.“Eligibility criteria and type of benefits will be decided by the government,” the note stated.A customer using the app will make a payment comprising the fare calculated as per the DoT notification, an additional 10% towards operational expenses and welfare measures, and applicable taxes such as GST.
Panaji: Over the last week, several villages of Pernem taluka faced acute drinking water shortage, particularly Paliem. Pernem falls at the tail-end of the supply chain with only the Chandel water treatment facility available for the entire taluka. As the canals of the Tillari dam have been taken up for major repairs and supply to Goa from the reservoir stopped, this shortage is being felt more than ever.WRD officials said that though repair works on the Tillari canals is still on, supply of raw water is expected to resume partially from January 6, bringing some relief.“We had not allowed major repair works to be taken up on the Maharashtra side of the canals of the Tillari for the past 22 years. If they were not taken up for repairs now, then supply would have been completely affected,” said an official.As tourism grows in the Morjim-Mandrem-Arambol beach belt of Pernem, the water supply situation is worsening. Work of augmenting the Chandel water treatment plant is on, while another treatment plant for the taluka has been planned at Tuem.To fix the frequent breaches reported in the Tillari canals over the past couple of years, both the left and right bank canals were shut in December for major maintenance and repairs. Works will be carried out over two months. Due to the canals being shut, supply of raw water has to be rationed.The drinking water requirements of Pernem, Bicholim and Bardez at presently being met by sourcing water stored in the bandharas. A filteration plant recently constructed at Porvorim has ensured that this area has not faced shortages this time around, though the congested region was usually prone to water supply issues.The works, which will be executed by the Tillari irrigation project officials in Maharashtra, will mainly involve restoring the two canals to their original state in places where deterioration is found.There are bandharas on the Chandel and the Kalana, from where the PWD pumps water for supply to the Chandel plant to meet Pernem taluka’s water requirements. From the bandharas on the Chapora and the Sal, water is being pumped into the reservoir at Amthane, which is used at the Amthane water treatment plant. This helps meet the drinking water requirements in Bardez and Bicholim.
Vasco: After strong opposition from the local panchayat and the MLA, the state government has kept in abeyance the opening of expression of interest for hiring/leasing of unused portion of the ferry ramp at Cortalim.The river navigation department had decided to hire/lease an unused portion of the ferry ramp to start tourism activities and for the same, had floated expression of interest. However, Cortalim panchayat and local MLA Antonio Vas raised strong objections considering the threat to the traditional fishermen and the villagers, which they say will disturb the peace and tranquility of the village, thereby increasing crimes and other anti-social activities. Vas, Cortalim sarpanch Senia Pereira and the other panch members confronted the officers of the river navigation department who had come to inspect the proposed site to check the feasibility for developing it from a tourism point of view.Cortalim panchayat has also adopted a resolution at its recent gram sabha to oppose the project proposed by the river navigation department.
Margao: Minister for cooperation and water resources Subhash Shirodkar on Sunday announced that five new bandharas and 20 wells will be built at various locations in Sanguem and Quepem talukas as well as in neighbouring areas through the water resources department. The move, he said, is aimed at motivating young farmers and providing a fillip to agricultural activities in the area.Speaking at the 30th Foundation Day of Adarsh Krishi Cooperative Society at Balli, Shirodkar said, “The young generation should adopt agriculture as a profession instead of hankering after government jobs.” He stressed on the need for a significant number of farmers from South Goa to venture into agriculture to contribute towards making the state swayampurna in the real sense of the term.Shirodkar added that the government intends to document the various subsidies allotted to farmers in six talukas of South Goa so as to understand the impact of the schemes on agriculture in the area.Minister for social welfare Subhash Phaldessai, referring to the proposed tribal village to be set up in Sanguem taluka, said that the project will help promote agricultural produce and handicrafts of tribal communities of Goa at an international level, thereby promoting hinterland eco-tourism.Farmers and people from various fields were felicitated for their extraordinary contribution towards cooperative movement.
Nearly 300 domestic and international flights at the Manila airport in the Philippines were either delayed, cancelled or diverted Sunday, causing misery for over 65,000 passengers during the New Year holiday after a power outage hampered air traffic operations.Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista in an evening news conference apologized for the inconvenience and said authorities are working to assist all affected passengers.Bautista said the problem started in the morning, when the Air Traffic Management Center, which oversees all flights in Philippine airspace, lost communication, radio, radar, and internet because of the power outage.The air traffic system was restored in late afternoon and flights resumed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.Officials said they requested airlines to mount more flights and to upgrade to more wide-body planes to accommodate more passengers, and that full recovery is expected after 72 hours.Some travellers were outraged, among them tycoon Manny Pangilinan, chairman of the telecommunication company PLDT, who said he was on his way to Manila from Tokyo when the outage happened.“We’re told radar and navigation facilities at NAIA down. I was on my way home fm Tokyo-3 hours into the flight, but had to return to Haneda. 6 hours of useless flying but inconvenience to travellers and losses to tourism and business are horrendous,” he tweeted.
Dubai ended its 30 per cent tax on alcohol sales in the sheikhdom on Sunday and made its required liquor licenses free to obtain, ending a long-standing source of revenue for its ruling family to apparently further boost its tourism to the emirate.The sudden New Year’s Day announcement, made by Dubai’s two state-linked alcohol retailers, came apparently from a government decree from its ruling Al Maktoum family. However, government officials did not immediately acknowledge the decision and did not respond to questions from The Associated Press.But it follows years of loosening regulations over liquor in the sheikhdom, which now sells alcohol during daylight hours in Ramadan and began providing home delivery during the lockdowns at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.Alcohol sales have long served as a major barometer of the economy of Dubai, a top travel destination in the UAE, home to the long-haul carrier Emirates. During the recent World Cup in nearby Qatar, Dubai’s many bars drew commuting soccer fans.Alcohol distributor Maritime and Mercantile International, which is part of the wider Emirates Group, made the announcement in a statement.“Since we began our operations in Dubai over 100 years ago, the emirate’s approach has remained dynamic, sensitive and inclusive for all,” said Tyrone Reid of MMI. “These recently updated regulations are instrumental to continue ensuring the safe and responsible purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Dubai and the UAE.” MMI did not respond to a question over whether the decision was permanent. However, an ad put up by MMI urged customers to buy from its stores, saying “you no longer need to drive out to the other emirates.” Dubai residents long have driven into Umm al-Quwain and other emirates for bulk, tax-free alcohol purchases.African & Eastern, the second alcohol retailer believed to be at least partially held by the state or affiliated firms, also announced the end of the municipality tax and license fees.Under Dubai law, non-Muslims must be 21 or older to consume alcohol. Drinkers are supposed to carry plastic cards issued by the Dubai police that permit them to purchase, transport and consume beer, wine and liquor. Otherwise, they can face fines and arrest — even though the sheikhdom’s vast network of bars, nightclubs and lounges almost never ask to see the permit.Still, relatively liberal Dubai is an outlier among others in the region. Sharjah, an emirate that borders Dubai to the north, outlaws alcohol, as do the nearby nations of Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.Abu Dhabi, the capital of the oil-rich UAE, ended its alcohol license system in September 2020.
Perched on the Atharamura hill range, Montang, a nondescript place in Tripura’s Khowai district, is emerging as a new destination for tourists due to its scenic beauty.Locals and tourists from other states are making a beeline to this place, known as the ‘Mountain of Peace’ among people of the local Tripuri community, to see floating clouds from proximity, Prasenjit Debnath, a faculty in the Department of Journalism in Tripura University, who visited the spot recently, said.A narrow and serpentine winding track of about 30 km goes to the top of the Atharamura hills from the National Highway (NH8) near the Chkmaghat barrage. The site is about 80 km from state capital Agartala.The spot came to the limelight after documentary filmmaker-turned-politician, Kamal Kalai made a ‘tong ghar’, a thatched bamboo hut anchored on planks made of bamboo and timber, for spending time there.“Taking some time off from my daily busy schedule, I thought of spending some time in tong ghar. I will cook rice and vegetables, collected from Jhum fields, and fish caught from small rivulets flowing down the hill,” Kalai, a man from the tribal community, told PTI.The place suddenly turned into a bustling tourist spot and emerged as a new destination for travellers and nature lovers after he posted the photos of the place on social media, which went viral.Kalai is now an executive member of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) after winning the elections in April last year.The tribal council constitutes two-thirds of the state territory.After becoming the executive member of the tribal council, he was successful in getting funds from the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) to build a connecting road from National Highway 8 to Montang, as this beautiful place falls under his constituency, and built a ‘tong ghar’ there.“My dream is to turn the place into a full-fledged tourist spot. The TTAADC does not have enough money to spend there. So I want the state tourism department to pay attention to develop the place. Law and order is being looked into as people have started making a mad rush to see the place”, Kalai said.He also has plans to turn a portion of the place into an organic farm and also encourage floriculture to make it a ‘village of flowers’.One Surinder Kumar, who came to visit Tripura with a group of his friends recently from Punjab, is overwhelmed by the scenic beauty of the area but rued that there was no proper infrastructure.“It is such a lovely place that everyone from outside will enjoy a lot. It is completely an unknown place to the rest of the country. Infrastructure should be built to provide facilities to tourists. The connecting road from the national highway is so bumpy that no visitor will like it. There is no bungalow to stay ”, he told a group of visiting journalists.Tourist operator, Supriya Deb, who is also a member of Tripura Tourism Development Forum (TTDF) said it was estimated that at least 500 tourists visit the place every day even as the infrastructure is very poor.“What I have seen is that there are only 7-8 shops here selling indigenous tribal food and handicraft items and also a makeshift restaurant where Biryani is sold and one tong ghar, where the owner Mr Kalai stays at times,” Deb told PTI.However, Rahul Paul, a youth, who visited the place several times, said that tourists enjoy indigenous food like Bangoi, a special type of rice boiled in special types of leaves grown in the hills, and pork bharta.When contacted, an official of the state tourism department said, the state government is planning to create infrastructure there and widen the road connecting it with the national highway and also build other facilities.“We are planning to develop the place. Tourism is now the priority of the state government”, he said.📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!
MARGAO: Union minister of state (MoS) for tourism and ports, shipping and waterways and North Goa MP Shripad Naik on Saturday said that he would be willing to resign from the Union Cabinet in protest if the Centre fails to consider Goa’s demand for withdrawal of its approval to Karnataka’s Kalasa-Bhandura detailed project report (DPR).“We will explore all options available before us for getting the DPR withdrawn. I have discussed the matter with the chief minister and asked him to lead an all-party delegation to the Prime Minister… I am ready to resign if the situation so demands,” Naik told reporters when asked if he would resign if the Centre fails to withdraw the DPR. The Centre approved Karnataka’s modified DPR for the Kalasa-Bhandura project on Thursday. “This is PM Modi’s gift to North Karnataka,” Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai had told the state assembly while announcing the approval. “A ministerial position is insignificant when it comes to protecting the interests and welfare of the people,” the Union MoS said. “None should dare play with the interests of the people, politics is secondary.” Stating that Mhadei was the lifeline of Goa, Naik termed the Centre’s approval for Karnataka’s DPR for the Kalasa-Bhandura project as “an agonising thing” for Goa.Granting approval for the project when special leave petitions against the project are pending before the Supreme Court amounted to injustice to Goa, he said, adding that the Centre’s “unilateral decision” will be strongly opposed by Goa.“It’s a very wrong decision. Goa will explore all options to compel the Centre to undo the injustice meted to the state. I urge all the opposition parties to sink their political differences and not to turn it into a political issue. If the Mhadei water is allowed to be diverted, it will lead to disastrous consequences for the wildlife and severely affect the drinking water situation of Goa. Goans will be deprived of the peace and joy that they have been leading their lives with,” Naik said.
In a bid to encourage vocational education in line with the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, Maharashtra’s School Education department under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has collaborated with the School of Vocational Education (SVE) at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). In the first year of collaboration, SSA plans to connect 15,000 students from government schools to various Bachelor of Vocational (BVoc) courses offered at the SVE.In times when most students think of traditional Arts, Commerce or Science degrees after Class XII, the idea is to divert them toward BVoc courses which are more employment-oriented. Awareness will be created at secondary school level as students will be eligible for these courses after passing Class XII. Plan is to increase the total number of students taking admission to these courses, each passing year. Under the collaboration, awareness will be created in government-run schools and students will get to take admission to various courses offered by the SVE at TISS.State Project Director Kailas Pagare said, “Several students looking forward to working soon tend to join Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) or diploma courses after Class X. But these are no degrees. The BVoc courses on the other hand are degrees, having multiple entry-exits which not only guarantee employment, but also provide students with earn-and-learn opportunities as these courses run in collaboration with industry partners. With official degrees in skills of their choice, our students will have better chances in the job market in future.”Pagare shared that SSA is working in tandem with the vision of NEP 2020 which aims at taking vocational education to 25 per cent of students until year 2025. “The collaboration with the SVE at TISS is to not only help create awareness but also provide a direct channel for our students to enroll in these courses. These courses can run anywhere as long as a batch of required number of students is formed in one location where an industry player too is ready to collaborate,” added Pagare.Professor Madhushree Sekher, Dean at SVE, said, “We have over 30 different types of BVoc courses in sectors as varied as agriculture, automotive, banking and finance, child or healthcare, logistics, retail, tourism & hospitality, among others. All these courses run with industry partners as the course module has 60 per cent of practical training components. In many cases, students also receive a stipend as they learn on the job which helps them for payments of fees for the course.”Talking about the importance of such a collaboration, Professor Sekher said, “The BVoc degrees are available at different institutes but there is no aspirational value among students to pursue these courses, as they are not widely recognised or mentioned as required eligibility to apply for any kind of job. This will educate school-children about the benefits of pursuing a BVoc degree.”The SSA also plans to bring aspirational value to BVoc degrees.
Calangute: While business is running well for many beach shacks at the main Calangute beach entrance and at Baga, it’s turning out to be a disappointing season for most of the other shacks in the Calangute-Candolim tourism hub which comprises more than half of all the beach shacks in the state. Stakeholders said the main reasons for lack of business are low charter tourist arrivals and the 10pm ban on sound, but are hoping business picks up next month with an uptick in British charter arrivals. Stakeholders also said that hotels are mostly full as the year-end crowd were mostly headed for the Sunburn festival. “They’re all going to Vagator so there’s no business for us in Calangute-Candolim,” some shack owners said. “Domestic tourists don’t like to come out in the sun. They come to the beach at night, but the 10pm sound ban means they go to discos with indoor music. So those customers are also not there. Every night after 10pm, the police come to check and ensure that there is no music being played,” Gino Lopes, a veteran shack owner in Candolim, said. “Business is slow. They said charters are coming, but there are hardly any charter tourists. Now they’re saying British charters are coming next month, so maybe things will improve,” Lopes said. However, others were skeptical about British charters landing in large numbers due to the delay in resolving the e-visa issue. “The messages I’ve got from my friends in the UK is that they might come to Goa during the next season. They do their bookings early and they’re saying that now they are heading to Turkey this season. It depends on people who are doing last-minute bookings, and if they get good discounts they might come. But it does not look like it will be good,” John Lobo, general secretary of the shacks owners’ welfare society (SOWS), said.
Panaji: Works have been taken up at the Inox courtyard, Macquinez Palace, and Old GMC to make these spaces in Panaji permanently accessibility-friendly. The works, which were taken up as a prelude to the Purple Fest in Goa, will be ready in time for the festival on January 6. Parts of the festival will be held at these spaces. “The work will be completed in a day or two,” said Taha Haaziq, secretary, office of the Goa state commissioner for persons with disabilities.Infrastructure is also being built at certain beaches in Goa to make them accessible, with ramps leading till the coastline and special motorised wheelchairs for the disability community to access the beaches.In addition to this, QR codes will be running around the entire venue at the exhibitions and experience zones so that smartphone users can access details on their phones by scanning the code. Literature is also available online for free download for visitors.So far, the event which is India’s first largescale inclusive festival has received 4,800 delegate registrations online. “The six experience zones will sensitise various parts of the society such as the Goa civil societies, parents of the disabled children, regular school students from Class 8 to 10 among others,” he said.Short films, music and other infotainment activities will play a significant role in spreading awareness about disability rights and sensitise people about issues plaguing the members of the disability community.India’s first-of-its-kind inclusive festival that embraces and celebrates persons with disabilitieswill be hosted from January 6 onwards in Panaji. The event is being organised by the office of the state commissioner for persons with disabilities in collaboration with the state directorate of social welfare, Entertainment Society of Goa, Goa Tourism Development Corporation, and the department of information and publicity.
When honeymoon couple Harmeet and Veena Singh came to Goa from Noida, little did they know that their hopes of partying till dawn at the beach shacks would get washed away with the 10pm noise ban. “Hum goa mein toh party karne hi aye the, otherwise we could have gone anywhere else,” says a fuming Harmeet. They are not alone in their plight. Goa has seen a multitude of disappointed tourists with the 10pm ban, which was brought into force after the high court of Bombay at Goa passed the order in the first week of December. The ban has been applied to both North and South Goa districts, and action has been taken against violators playing loud music beyond the permitted time.This order was in response to the complaint filed by locals against the playing of loud music at late night. “It is noticed that violations of the Noise Pollution Rules are at their peak during months of November, December, and January,” reads the high court statement. But, while the locals breathe a sigh of relief, with sound sleep, what does the ban mean to the tourism industry? We talk to the stakeholders to find out more.Party hoppers left unhappy as parties end by 10pmGoa’s party peeps are clearly not happy about the new order. Many, especially tourists, have been dismayed that their plans of partying near the beach have been dashed. “Goa is known for its beaches and its chill vibe, and also its wide range of music one can choose from. But if you shut the music at 10, what’s the point of coming to Goa? We are here for a long holiday till around New Year’s, and it was really disappointing to known that this ban will be in force,” says Ajay Maletriya, from Delhi.Harmeet says that Goa wasn’t his first choice, but the couple came here to party. “Bangkok and Thailand were initially on our list, but we decided on Goa instead to have a longer holiday. But this rule is upsetting. During the day, we go to visit beaches, do sightseeing, and then head to the shacks early at around 7-8 pm and party till around 10pm to make up for the time. The whole idea of coming to Goa was to party,” says Harmeet.Though there are no restrictions on the indoor music, Irene Lakra says there is no difference between coming to Goa and staying back in Delhi or going to any other place to party. “Humko toh khulle mein party karna hai. If I wanted to party in a closed space, I could have done it in Delhi. Why come to Goa? Tourists come to Goa only because of the ambiance and beaches – other states have beaches too. Also, Goa is much more expensive as compared to other places, why should I waste my trip here then?”Locals like Sarah Dias and her friends from Panaji too have been disappointed after the order. “I have never been to parties before 10-11pm. And for us working crowd, there are no places to go now, as we wind up with work at around 6pm and then go out clubbing. Now we have to look for other ways to unwind instead of going to clubs,” she says.Clubs shift action indoors“The 10pm ban has always been there, most of our places are indoor and well insulated to any sound spillage. I think a good balance is required where tourists can party at open venues till 10pm and then move to good indoor venues,” says Sahil Adwalpalkar of a popular club chain.A club manager in Baga pointed out that the season had picked up after Diwali, but is worried the ban will affect the profits. “We were expecting a big crowd but the news of the music ban has caught the attention of people all over and this could be a downfall for the industry. During the pandemic, most of the places were shut and businesses were badly affected, now would have been the time to make money and make up for the losses.” Advait Naik, director of a Nerul nightclub, has been following the order diligently and shifts the party indoors post the prescribed time limit, “The ban is not for indoor venues, so most will continue their party with the Bollywood and EDM music post 10pm. Most party places have transitioned into indoor venues or have opted for innovative ideas to work around the ban, like headphone parties.”Shacks too face a brunt of this order, with sales dropping, “People would come for the music here, but now some eat at the shack and go to indoor clubs to party,” informs Sashi, who runs the shack in Baga. Anil, a waiter, says that people give less tips now as well. “We would make most of our salaries through the tips that people pay, but if the place will have no music, people will eat and go early, which means less food served, less tips.”The rise of headphone parties and sundowners Some clubs have resorted to headphone parties to counter the losses caused by the court order. Some have been a hit, while others haven’t. “Headphone parties are generally accepted by guests, but most are not thrilled about it, as they want to party with loud music. Tourism holds a major stake in Goa’s revenue; due to this ban people have stopped visiting here, and unless measures are taken to remedy the situation, we will be severely affected in the future. In the last 15 days itself, owing to the less revenue, I had to downsize on my staff strength,” says Aniket Sakpal, GM of a high-end club in Vagator.Advait adds that clubs are competing with casinos, indoor clubs, and other indoor places, and so the outdoor clubs have to find innovative ways to sustain. “A new change will always create discomfort initially during the transition phase, but eventually this will give birth to new venues, methods, and culture in the nightlife industry. I recently visited a headphone party in Anjuna and was fascinated with it, such new things need to be explored and experimented with.”
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau on Friday opened a probe in a complaint alleging that bills were inflated during the Daastan-e-Shahaadat programme (held in November 2021), and the additional Rs 1.47 crore hence collected was “adjusted” for the wedding of former Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi’s son that was held in October.One Rajbinder Singh, a resident of Bhagu village in Bathinda, had approached the Vigilance Bureau with a complaint against erstwhile chief general manager of state tourism department S K Chaddha, and executive engineer Prem Chand. Rajbinder, in his complaint, had requested a probe into the Daastan-e-Shahadat function “scam” held on November 19 last year at Chamkaur Sahib — a couple of months before the Assembly elections were held in the state.The complainant claimed that the tourism department had spent Rs 1.47 crore on Daastan-e-Shahaadat programme, the bills of which were exorbitantly inflated to “adjust” the expense incurred during Channi’s son’s wedding.Rajbinder alleged a cup of tea at the function cost “Rs 2,000, as against Rs 12 per cup fixed by the EC for 2022 Punjab elections”. He claimed that the “government money loot” was done “on the pretext of Daastan-e-Shahadat function to adjust expenses incurred during the wedding ceremony of former CM Channi’s son, which took place on October 10, 2021.”Ex-CM Channi held the tourism portfolio at that time. The complainant alleged that the tourism department floated four tenders, and awarded work worth Rs 1.47 core in “violation of the laid norms, on the same day”.Contacted by The Indian Express, both Chaddha and Channi denied the allegations. Chaddha said the tenders were floated with the “approval of competent authority”. Channi dubbed the allegations as a “witch hunt”. He said the Vigilance Bureau had been “directed by the AAP government to arrest him as soon as he is back from abroad”.
Panaji: Chief minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday said Goa Taxi app will be in the interest of tourists and taxi owners from Pernem. He assured taxi owners and operators from Pernem to accommodate their taxis at Manohar international airport at Mopa.Sawant said that Mopa airport will start commercial operations from January 5 and if someone wants to create a problem, then the government will strictly act against those taxi owners and operators.The CM held a meeting with taxi owners from Pernem and it was attended by Pernem MLA Pravin Arlekar and tourism minister Rohan Khaunte, among others. Sawant said that people from Pernem have understood the Goa Taxi app. Khaunte said that the three taxi unions have been explained how to run their taxis. “These leaders have to explain to other taxi owners and operators. If there is politics, Pernekars will not benefit and as there were some people misguiding taxi owners, the state government today had a meeting to clarify the issues,” he said.Khaunte said that the Goa Taxi app belongs to taxi owners and operators. “Within a month we can hold a review meeting again,” he said. The tourism minister said that Goa Electronic Ltd will explain to the taxi owners and operators how to register their vehicles on app.
Vasco: The first charter flight from Kyrgyzstan carrying 170 tourists landed in Goa on Thursday morning. Kyrgyzstan airlines Aero Nomad will fly every eight days till January-end. “We have planned one flight a week, but it will be increased if booking sees an uptick,” said Amar Dhumatker, president of the Goa charters at Caper Travel India Pvt Ltd. Guests were welcomed with a brass band by the airport authorities in association with the tourism department.