Nautical tourism, also called water tourism, is prospering across Europe. Even the Middle Eastern countries have adopted the European model of this tourism.
Adventure- and leisure-loving individuals indulge in this more developed form of tourism.
More, importantly, this is a self-sustaining industry which directly and indirectly supports other businesses.
Goa's tourism, once considered as the jewel in the crown of the tourism industry in India, is on the decline, if one looks at the quality of tourists entering the State.
The Goa Tourism Department has been talking about attracting high-end tourists, but mere talks and no action are taking tourism nowhere.
At this juncture, what Goa needs is good infrastructure to attract high-end tourists, and a marina is just the right answer.
In Goa, mega projects are shunned, some of course, rightfully, but a project like a marina has to be looked at from the perspective of high-end tourism.
The Nauxim marina project has been opposed since 2010 citing environmental concerns.
Any project comes with pros and cons, but those who are opposed to it have not taken the trouble to understand it in Goa. We have to judge between the bigger and lesser evil.
The reality is that the government, too, has not come clear on it and there seems to be a lack of awareness. Even the media has been in the dark or has not been able to learn much about the project.
However, after discussing with one of my journalist friends, who has done different experiments in nautical tourism, I have come to the conclusion that the marina project needs to be given a chance.
Many countries that are blessed with extensive coastlines are now the mainstays of nautical tourism (sailing, yachting, cruising, diving).
Western countries, in particular, have played a key role in promoting nautical tourism, while at the same time ensuring there are no environmental impacts.
One country that stands apart when it comes to achieving great heights in this sector is Croatia. Originally a part of Yugoslavia, Croatia was devastated as a result of the Balkan War.
That is when the Croatians decided to take advantage of their vast coastline by constructing marina projects.
More than 11 million tourists visit Croatia today, a major attraction being its world-class marinas.
The marinas attract high-end yachts that bring high-end tourists to the country and, thus, benefit the economy. Croatia's coastline is similar to that of Goa.
Being a small country, it has some features similar to Goa. The tourism industry in Goa can take a leaf out of Croatia’s book by studying its flourishing nautical tourism, which changed the face of its economy after the war.
Yachting is considered affordable tourism only for wealthy travellers. Rich people in coastal countries buy small boats to travel around the world. Those who love such fun can enjoy themselves on these boats.
For them, sailing around in their costly and swanky yachts means adventure. When these high-spending tourists dock their boats at a marina, the locals benefit because shipbuilding, repair, small restaurants and other ancillary units get business.
In Croatia, marinas have been beneficial as these have provided long-term employment to the locals.
Looking at the dwindling number of foreign tourists and also looking at the mess Goa tourism finds itself in, the Goa government needs to step forward and create the necessary awareness about projects like marina, which are environmentally friendly and will benefit the state as a whole.
Marina is the oxygen tourism in Goa needs.