Times of India | 2 weeks ago | 15-06-2022 | 10:03 am
PANAJI: While the tourism industry has had a good run over the past six months - after a prolonged, bleak period due to the pandemic - the monsoon doesn't seem to have affected the fortunes of certain segments of the industry. Starred hotels have been reporting a room occupancy of 70-80% in the first month of the rains, with prospects looking bright for July as well. This appears to be a nascent trend during non-season periods, when occupancy at hotels otherwise ranges between 50 and 60% or even less due a drop in footfalls. When matched with a similar time in the pre-pandemic period, stakeholders say the level of occupancy recorded this month was never so good. "Bookings this time around have been very encouraging. A 70% occupancy for the monsoon season is indeed good. The summer has not ended for the northern parts of India, so people are choosing to travel to Goa, and room tariffs being on the lower side have boosted the growth in footfalls," said Ralph de Sousa, president, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The other reason for Goa witnessing a rise in footfalls, de Sousa said, is because Southeast destinations - where Indian tourists are known to flock - are yet to fully open up for travellers.
The Goa Tourism Development Board (GTDC) has planned to host a three-day ‘International Shiv Festival’ during Mahashivratri next year at the famous Tambdi Surla temple in Mollem.GTDC chairman Ganesh Gaonkar told reporters on Wednesday, “There will be an International Shiv Festival. Work on that on. If all goes according to plan, there will be a three-day festival at Tambdi Surla on Mahashivratri.”“On one side, we have the EDM, Sunburn by the beach. On the other side, those who can perform the Shiv mudra dance can participate in this festival,” Gaonkar, a BJP MLA from Savordem, said.He said the proposed festival will be a cultural event to showcase the Shiv mudra dance, and performers excelling in the art would be expected to participate.Every year, spirited celebration takes place at the 12th Century Shiva temple on Mahashivratri. The black basalt temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered to be the only specimen of Kadamba-Yadava architecture in basalt stone in Goa.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced on Wednesday that his government for the first time set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe into cases of illegal land grab in the state.“In a major decision today our government has constituted a special investigation team (SIT) in the state for the first time ever to investigate the matters of illegal land grabbing/transfer. Goa being one of the most sought after destinations has been the target of such criminals involved in illegal land grabbing. We will leave no stone unturned to protect the land of Goa and the interest of Goans. We have come across some cases of such illegal land transfers, hence we have constituted the team to take swift action in such matters. I appeal to the people to come forward and approach the SIT to report on illegal land grabbing/transfer cases,” Sawant said.In an order issued late on Wednesday evening, the Goa government stated that it had set up the SIT “to investigate and enquire into various complaint/FIR regarding illegal land transferred/land grabbing by way of forged documents”.The SIT is led by the superintendent of police, crime branch, Nidhin Valsan, and has six others, including the deputy collector of South Goa, Snehal Prabhu, and deputy superintendent of police Braz Menezes and representatives from the departments of archeology and the state registrar, the order issued by under secretary (home) Girish Sawant stated.Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte, the MLA from Porvorim, had also demanded a probe into illegal land grab cases and said that he would discuss the issue with the chief minister.
Panaji: With beaches continuing to be cluttered with deck beds, beach umbrellas, tables and chairs way after May 31, the tourism department has put in place surveillance teams to crack down against illegal occupants and encroachments on beaches. “We have activated our surveillance teams. They have started visiting and finding out where the illegalities are happening. Today, we had a meeting with the SP North and requested him to deploy police when raids will be conducted in the coming days,” a department official said. On Wednesday, when the department’s team visited Calangute, beach umbrellas and deck beds were found everywhere, besides vendors were seen doing brisk business, he said. “These illegalities will not be taken lightly, irrespective of who they are. If violators do not take our warning seriously, if they think they are above the law or that they will continue to function with political backing, then they are in for a rude shock. None will be spared,” the officer said. He said that material found on beaches will be seized and action will be taken against anyone trying to stop them. It is suspected that with Goa continuing to receive domestic footfalls in June as well, several beach shack operators have continued their activities past May 31 though they are required to wind up business and clear beaches. They have dismantled their shacks, but not stopped putting out deck beds and umbrellas. The officer said that they will also act against private businesses which have slowly encroached on the beach. “We have decided to survey the whole area, and if encroachments are found, they will be demolished, if not removed by the owners themselves,” he said.
Panaji: With the Mopa International airport expected to be commissioned in September, Goa is set to see an increased flow of travellers. While development at the beginning of the tourist season ought to have made the tourism industry euphoric, concerns have risen over alleged non-implementation of taxi meters. Trade members have alleged that though tourist taxis have been fitted with meters, operators are still not billing travellers as per metre rates and fear that, as an immediate fallout, hotels in South Goa may be affected. A hotelier from North Goa, Francisco de Braganca, said that tourist taxi operators continue to charge exorbitantly and added that the transport department does not have a mechanism in place to check if they are using meters. "If you charge Rs 3,000-4,000 for a one-way journey from North Goa to South Goa, we are afraid hotels in South Goa may lose clients," he said.
Panaji: Apprehensive tourism stakeholders, led by the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), have petitioned chief minister Pramod Sawant to take up with the Centre the matter of issuing e-visas to citizens of the UK and other nations that have been excluded so far. Goa did not receive charter tourists last season, while another category of travellers — free, independent travellers (FITs) — largely avoided visiting India after the UK was excluded from the list of countries eligible for Indian e-visas. “We want the chief minister to take up the issue with the Centre. If UK citizens continue to be ineligible for e-visas, footfalls from the country will be negligible for yet another season,” said TTAG president Nilesh Shah. After Russia, the UK has been the biggest market for the state and receives repeat tourists. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed the scene. “While growth in the domestic segment has been overwhelming, we are concerned about foreign arrivals. Last season, after receiving a schedule of UK charters, it was cancelled when the country figured in the list of at-risk nations,” a tour operator said. With most of the repeat UK guests being senior citizens, hotelier Savio Messias said they find it troublesome to travel to the Indian embassy in London for visa formalities. Recently, a couple that was on the cusp of booking a trip to India cancelled after realising the arduous process involved in obtaining a visa. “A trip to London involves an overnight stay for them and would cost almost as much as one of their flights to India,” he said. A tour operator said British visitors are the second-most numerous non-SAARC travellers to India and that it is sad to lose so many guests because British passport holders are no longer eligible for e-visas. Shah said that besides this issue, tourism stakeholders also requested the CM to stop harassment of tourists by the police. “We also complained about the prevalence of touts. You find them at beaches, outside casinos, and at other tourists areas badgering tourists. This has to be stopped,” he said. The issue of security of tourists was also discussed as even a small incident can affect the image of the state, he said.