Goa is in desperate need of an image makeover to attract the ‘right kind’ of tourists, experts in tourism concluded after discussing means to make the state’s tourism industry sustainable.
Goa should take cues from countries like Thailand and Vietnam, that are banking on their unique cultures to attract tourists, said Ivo Cardoso, expert in tourism promotion. “Thailand has restructured its tourism philosophy not only to create wealth but also to preserve its culture and identity. In Vietnam, 70% of tourism is agri-tourism – tourists travel to the hinterlands to appreciate the tranquil green fields and enjoy being close to the soil,” explained Cardoso.
Listing out his recommendations, Cardoso called for a watchdog organization like TRAI to regulate the tourism sector. He also suggested that the four coastal states — Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra – could get together to promote beach tourism across the west coast to take on formidable international destinations like the French or Italian Riviera, and also control density of tourists.
Echoing Cardoso’s thoughts, activist Yatish Naik stressed that Goa’s crude image as a ‘beach leisure destination’ that translates into a haven of alcohol, gambling, drugs and sex should be broken. “Cultural tourism can be advanced by promoting real Goan culture and folklore like Bonderam in Divar, Tripuri Poornima at Vithalapura-Bicholim, traditional Carnival or Shigmo festivals taking place in various villages,” he said.
Naik, a lawyer by profession, also stressed that Goa needed a long-term tourism policy to prevent issues like price rise in essential commodities, hikes in land prices and the decline of traditional occupations among Goans. Installation artist Subodh Kerkar called for art and sculpture festivals to be held in Goa.
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