Panaji: Goa tourism minister Rohan Khaunte on Wednesday told the international and domestic tourism footfalls are increasing in the costal state considering the pre-pandemic figures.
Responding to the allegations by the opposition benches who claimed that the participation in the international events by the state tourism department was junket and should be stopped immediately.
Congress MLA Carlose Alvares Ferreira had raised the issue not he floor of the House on Wednesday during ongoing Budget session.
Khaunte said that there is increase in the tourism footfalls vis-a-vis figures of pre pandemic. The minister said that in the year 2019, which was pre pandemic, 71.27 lakh domestic tourists arrived in the state while as on November 2023, the figure was 71 lakhs.
He pointed out that the figures of international travellers in the year 2019, which was pre pandemic was 9.37 lakh which went down to 1.69 lakhs in the year 2022, as every country was recovering in terms of international footfalls.
Khaunte said that as of November 2023, 4.03 lakh foreign tourists arrived in the state, registering a growth of 138.69 per cent.
The minister said that the department participates in the road show to promote the destination as the post-covid perception of tourism has to be highlighted in these events. “Also, there are B2B meetings happening during the tourism events which helps the industry,” he said.
“When I go to France it is not only for the people of France. When we go for the events WTM (World Trade Mart), ITM (International Tourism Mart), ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin), that time we are going and meeting the world there,” he said.
The minister invited the opposition benches to join the tourism department in international event so that they know that there is serious business happening there and they are no more junkets.
“It is no longer business of junket. We are doing serious business there. I would like you to come and evaluate yourself what we are doing there,” he said on the floor of the House.
Khaunte said that the market today has become competitive. “When we speak about Dekho apna desh, every state is competing with each other. International markets, UK and Russia are the two markets which were dependent on, this year we were expecting footfalls from Israel, due to Hamas, it got affected. We started from Uzbekistan, first chartered came and second did not come,” he explained.
Intervening in the discussion, Goa Forward party MLA Vijai Sardesai demanded that the tourism department should place white paper on the floor of the House about all the road shows that the department has participated.
“Former CM Manohar Parrikar had said that there would be pre audit of all the roadshows. Now, we are demanding ban on all promotions. We don’t want consultants, we want think tanks. There are Goan people who can give free advice to them. There should be half an hour discussion on it,” he said.