TravTalk - India
Goa beyond the usual
Goa is known for the sun, sea and sand, but the state government also wants to showcase the other sides of Goa, and for that it has been focussing on heritage, hinterland, adventure and other facets of tourism in the state.
Claiming that the last two years have been a nightmare for the industry, Nikhil Desai, Managing Director, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) said that Goa being an industry leader is most affected by the pandemic.
“Nonetheless, we made the most out of this opportunity in the last two years. When tourism was almost zero, we decided where we head next. We spent a lot of time into planning. Several issues had to be addressed, like the formation of the new Goa Tourism Board, which has finally been achieved under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister. We also have the tourism policy and the master plan that has been laid out and it is a clear direction for the state of Goa to head towards a sustainable, responsible and an accessible tourism destination,” he said.
He revealed that in December, they had a new heritage tourism product. “Since Goa has completed 60 years of liberation from the Portuguese rule, we have dedicated Fort Aguda Jail and Museum to the tourism industry, which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister
on 19 December. There is also a 1400 acre convention centre, which will be completed by the end of this year. It will give a massive boost to the MICE tourism segment in the state. We are also in the process of setting up our Western Ghats Nature Education Park in South Goa, which would be re-oriented towards nature based theme tourism, as well as heritage walking corridor that will showcase our beautiful heritage, history and culture to the visiting tourists,” he said. Claiming that they cannot put all their eggs in one basket, he said, “As far as sun, sea and sand is concerned, we want to showcase the other side of Goa. While it would remain our mainstay, the state government is clearly focused on heritage, hinterland, adventure and all the other facets of tourism.”
He added, “We are a small state of just 3,700 kms, but we have everything to offer to the tourists. Hence, no sooner the restrictions were lifted, the state government has made it 100 per cent back to pre-COVID times because everything is open fully without any restrictions, except for masks, social distancing and other norms. After that we saw plethora of arrivals to the state. The industry is doing extremely well. This proves that we are one big step towards recovery, but still there are challenges owing to the geopolitical situation. The RussiaUkraine war has upset our plans with charter flights stopping from our key source market, i.e. Russia. The tourism charter season is looking bleak for the remainder of the season. However, I am sure all this will be behind us, and with the encouragement and constant support that we receive from MOT, Goa will bounce back in the coming season as far as international tourism is concerned.”
Marketing and technology
Desai said that the last two years, given the unique situation, left them with very little choice as far as marketing is considered. “However, whenever we had some small windows in between lockdowns and lifting of restrictions, we did some social media marketing. Now, we are going to up the tempo in the days to come. We have lined up a series of packages and roadshows across the country,” he explained.
Claiming that competition is good, Desai shared that many other states are competing for similar share of pie.
“For MICE, we do have competition. Goa is one of the leaders in wedding tourism. Most of our star proper ties are absolutely full these days mainly driven by MICE and the wedding segment. I am sure Goa will do well because of the kind of products that we have added and managed to successfully implement, mostly on a PPP mode. We believe that the government should step back, be a facilitator, encourage and cheer up the private sector and see that they introduce the best of products,” he shared.
As Goa completed 60 years of liberation from Portuguese rule, we have dedicated Fort Aguda Jail and Museum to the tourism industry