TTAG suggests a series of recommendations for Goa's 2023-24 budget for the improvement and streamlining of the tourism sector in Goa. The TTAG head said that there could be long-term benefits for all the tourism stakeholders if these recommendations are implemented in the state this year.
Goa’s reputation as a famous tourist destination ensures that its major source of revenue generation is the tourism sector. Over the years, Goa's tourism has boomed, and now the time has come to streamline the tourism sector to limit and do away with criminal activity, touts and other illegalities taking place during the season.
TTAG has now come forward and given some recommendations to the state government to derive the maximum benefits from the tourism sector and bring some order to it.
Nilesh Shah, the president of the Travel & Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) informed Gomantak Times, that the recommendations made by them for Goa's budget for this financial year in the tourism sector will only boost tourism.
He said, ‘If these recommendations are implemented this year, some sort of accountability and discipline will come in the tourism sector. These recommendations have been suggested considering the benefits to all stakeholders in the tourism sector.’
Shah stated that vegetable and fish vendors, hoteliers, watersports and shack operators and all those involved in the tourism sector directly or indirectly are going to benefit from these recommendations if they are considered and implemented in the state of Goa.
TTAG Goa has given 18 recommendations for Goa's budget 2023-24. These are as follows:
1. No increase in fees and taxes in tourism-related activities for 2 years as recently the fees were increased and the industry has finally managed a full year of being open (since 2020).
2. Efficient beach management with adequate cleaning of beaches along with demarcated zones for shacks, beach beds and hawker zones.
3. Reduction in excise duty on high-end liquor to bring in quality tourists as well as an increase in revenue to the state (a lot of high-end liquor is obtained from other states for events in Goa).
4. Extension of normal excise license timings from 11 pm to 12 midnight. This will help to increase revenue.
5. Better transport facilities to connect airports, ports, main bus stands and railway stations with cities and towns. Upgradation of main city bus stands (Panaji, Vasco, Margao, Mapusa and Margao).
6. Detailed reports to the Trade for Tourism Department, trips to promote and market Goa (domestic and international). This will bring about the accountability of such trips, and we will see better results.
7. Large numbers of touts on the road and on bikes who are selling everything under the sun in cash: watersports, boat trips, waterfall trips, spice farms, adventure trips, drugs, prostitutes, etc. Some things sold are illegal, while the commission under these touts is in cash only. The government is losing revenue as travel agencies are not receiving business.
8. Form XI GEL charges to be incorporated into Annual Tourism Licence Fees or to be waived off for 2 years to encourage more businesses to register and fill in the form online.
9. Rest stops/comfort stops for tourists and locals on main highways with the provision of toilets, changing rooms, drinking water (free) along with a general store.
10. Large open-air venues for exhibitions, conventions with AC tents, festivals and events will provide tremendous revenue to the state. Currently, all these events are held at the Bandodkar Ground and SAG Football Ground in Campal, Panjim, where there is no provision for parking and very bad traffic management, leading to congestion.
Two large open venues (1 in North Goa and 1 in South Goa) away from the main cities will provide for better planning, effective traffic management and decongestion along with revenue to the state.
11. Provisions to only allow homestays in the hinterland and eco-sensitive areas; to protect these areas from large hotels, concretisation and commercial activities; loans to homestay owners, skill development of homestay owners and standard SOPs for homestays will benefit the hinterland and protect it.
12. The large number of roadside food stalls need to be stopped and removed because restaurants are losing business and the government is losing revenue from restaurants.
13. Completion of ongoing tourism projects which have not been completed for many years: mini-convention centre, main convention centre, Santa Monica jetty terminal building, hotel management college, etc and many such ongoing GTDC-Tourism Department projects.
14. Charter incentive scheme to continue where 1 lakh charges against landing fees are reimbursed. For sick or closed hotel units, a special scheme to revive with interest waiver, etc to be considered.
15. Making those people who have won national tourism awards brand ambassadors of tourism and giving them special honour.
16. Special provision has to be made for the garbage being littered along the roadside. A special fund should be created to collect the garbage being littered along the highway.
17. Tourist-friendly police force.
18. Entertainment policy for the state of Goa: stop the advertisements that destroy the beauty of Goa and make Goa an area of visual pollution. ‘Goa brings a smile on the face of a traveller’ concept making Goa a tourist-friendly state. Designation of photo-friendly places in Goa for Instagram. Also, designation of areas for film shoots.
It may be recalled that there have been several issues among the stakeholders from the tourism sector, be it taxi operators, watersports activity operators, hoteliers, shack owners and so on. All these stakeholders wanted to reap benefits from tourism but were not so keen on doing business by following the rules and discipline of the tourism sector. It is most likely that if these recommendations are considered, some degree of order will be visible in Goa's tourism sector.