Panaji: The bad management of tourism industry impacting the livelihood of people dependent on it has become one of the important issue for upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Goa.
The elections for both the seats of Lok Sabha and three by-elections of Goa Legislative Assembly seats would be held on April 23.
State Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar on February 13, 2019 talking to industry stakeholders had admitted to the drop in tourist arrivals in the State. The minister had asked the stakeholders to submit a comprehensive report on the issue.
The minister had said “the problems will be looked into jointly by the Goa government after taking into confidence all the tourism bodies and stakeholders.”
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), an apex body of the tourism stakeholders, claim that the drop in international tourism is up to 40 per cent. TTAG President Savio Messiah said that the drop in international travelers is up to 40-50 per cent which is tremendous.
TTAG provides figures to the State tourism department annually which are compiled to reach to the exact tourist footfalls.
Messiah said that there is no proper figures available as far as domestic tourists are concerned, but there is definitely drop in hotel occupancy. “The hotels in Goa right now run only due to wedding and events,” he said.
The TTAG Chief said that the affect on tourism will certainly be one of the issue during upcoming Lok Sabha election.
The tourism industry has been facing slump during last couple of years with State Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar failing to address the issue. The tourism stakeholders, now, want ruling BJP to provide solution to arrest the downfall of this industry.
“The failure to curb garbage menace on the beaches and also enthuse the tourism sector are going to be important issues for this Lok Sabha election. The candidate who can provide perfect solution for these issues will win over the votes,” said Manuel Cardoso, President, Traditional Shack Owners Association.
The traditional beach shacks contribute for one of the most important aspect of Goa’s tourism, which is concentrated on the shorelines. The Beach shacks are one of the attraction for the tourists who arrive here to soak in the Sun.
“Centre has not done much to ensure that the tourism industry survives in Goa. When candidates come asking for votes this time for Lok Sabha, we want them to assure us solution for our problems,” Cardoso said.
He said that State Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaokar has failed to curtail this phenomenon of drop in tourism footfalls.
Goa attracts around six million tourists every year and majority of it are domestic travelers. The State is also a holiday destination for tourists from UK and Russia besides other countries.
North Goa Taxi Owners’ Association, one of the prominent organization in coastal belt, recently had questioned sitting BJP Member of Parliament Shripad Naik, about his reluctance to address the issues of tourism.
“Tourism was never on agenda for elections in the past. But this time, it has prominently become a poll issue. People are worried about the tourism industry,” said Vinayak Nanoskar, General Secretary, North Goa Taxi Owners’ Association.
He said that sitting MP is known for his humble behaviour and has lot of acceptance in masses, but his failure to address the issues faced by tourism industry will be a setback.
“The tourism industry stakeholders including taxi operators have been petitioning all the MPs but none of them have been able to provide us the solution,” said Nanoskar who is on the forefront to oppose entry of taxi aggravators like Ola and Uber in the State claiming that allowing “outsiders” will cripple traditional taxi business.
State Tourism Minister Manohar Ajogankar, when contacted, said that the government is taking all possible steps to address problems faced by this industry.
“I don’t think that it will be a poll issue. We are on the job to address all the issues,” he said.