Goa unveils new 'Regenerative Tourism' model
“In a world that teeters on the edge of environmental fragility and societal imbalance, a call for change echoes louder than ever,” was how Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte began his speech as he unveiled Goa’s new model of Regenerative Tourism that recognises the interconnectedness of nature, culture and people.
Addressing the media at Goa Devaaya Resort, Divar, on January 10, Khaunte rolled out the roadmap, charting the course his department is set to embark upon to redefine Goa’s approach to travel and tourism.
“Regenerative tourism is not a luxury but a necessity,” Khaunte said and added, “our planet’s ecosystem strains under the weight of conventional tourism practices while local communities often bear the brunt of unsustainable development.”
Tourism in Goa currently contributes 16.4 percent to the state’s GDP and generates around 33 per cent employment. The new model will promote environmental restoration, cultural preservation, and community empowerment by means of the four paths of spirituality, indigeneity, civilisational and cultural nationalism and conscious tourism.
Throughout millennia, travel and pilgrimage have led people to expand their geographical knowledge and free themselves from the constraints of regionalism and parochialism.
Khaunte further emphasised how the new approach will help do that and said, “Our model of Regenerative Tourism will revolve around 11 spiritual sites or the Ekadaska Teertha.”
By involving the local communities, especially women and youth, in exploring, understanding and projecting their culture, cuisine and lifestyle, Goa tourism aims to harness the commercial and economic potential of their own history and heritage while transitioning from a sea-shore centric tourism model to a more inclusive, people-centric approach.
The Regenerative Tourism model will also foster deeper connections between travellers and the places they visit — a symbiotic relationship encouraging meaningful engagement, cultural exchange and genuine appreciation of the diversity and richness of the place.
“What we are talking is how to make hosts and visitors partners in the entire journey that will redefine Goa tourism’s future development,” Suneel Anchipaka, Director, Tourism and Managing Director, GTDC said.
Concurring with the minister, the director reiterated that although the term ‘Regenerative Tourism’ seemed new, the department through its earlier policies has long been working towards cultural immersion — be it the homestay policy where tourists get a firsthand experience, engaging with the authentic Goan culture; setting Yuva clubs, where local youth ambassadors promote Goa’s rich heritage; shaping national identity through the Indian tourism ministry’s Dekho apna desh initiative or strengthening the vision of Goa as dakshin kashi and signing the MoU with Uttarakhand (Uttarkashi).
Goa has leveraged distinctive attributes, positioning it as a gateway to and from India to the globe. But today, Goa’s tourism faces challenges, including competition from countries like Thailand and Indonesia, modern cities like Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, and large Indian states, and hasn’t recovered to full strength post-COVID.
Goa tourism has set its sight on the next steps that include providing education and financial training for women and youth, collaboration with institutions, workshops, marketing in hinterlands and media training.
Khaunte believes regenerative tourism will breathe life into Goa’s landscapes, revive its cultural heritage and empower the local economy, while creating a virtual cycle of sustainability. He urged all to embark on this collective and transformative endeavour.
“Let’s explore Goa responsibly, leave footprints of positive impact and ensure this paradise remains a haven for generations to come. Let’s put back more than we can take out,” Khaunte concluded.