Goa Ministers spar over state’s new tourism policy

The recent approval of the Goa Tourism Policy 2020, a document setting guidelines for future development of the tourism sector in the state with a detailed master plan to achieve the objective, has left the Goa cabinet a divided house.

The policy has been formulated by global consulting firm KPMG at a cost of Rs 4.99 crore. But Goa Ports Minister Michael Lobo said the document is vague in its contents while Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar backed the policy and its master plan to the hilt, saying it would help Goa diversify its tourism offerings and at the same time encourage inputs from experts for development of the sector.

“It only makes vague suggestions about shifting the tourism focus to the hinterland and other activities. It does not really take the ground realities into account,” Lobo said in his criticism of the tourism policy and master plan.

The Ports Minister, who also runs hotels and restaurants in the coastal state, said that lack of involvement of local stakeholders in the making of the policy was detrimental to the interests of Goa.

The tourism policy has the vision for making Goa one of the safest destinations as it has advocated diversification of the state’s bouquet of tourism offerings spread across 26 circuits, which includes promotion of the state as a culture and heritage tourism destination.

The state tourism masterplan pitches for attracting investments to create infrastructure for wedding tourism as well as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism segment.

Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has, however, dismissed Lobo’s criticism as unfounded.

“KPMG had already been appointed by a former government. They have brought forth a good tourism policy before the people. Goans will be implementing it and there will be a tourism board with experts from all fields, especially eco-tourism, hinterland tourism and adventure tourism,” Ajgaonkar said.

Goa, known as a leading beach and nightlife tourism destination, attracted nearly eight million tourists in 2019. But the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic cast a pall of gloom over the industry with tourist footfall dropping sharply this year.