A tourism department must have a strategy when exhibiting at any travel show, especially one as important as the Arabian Travel Mart in a high profile touristic market as Dubai. I was shocked when I saw the stand of the Goa Tourism Board. It was basic and poorly outfitted ~ an eyesore amongst the stands of other tourism boards, airlines, high end hotels, et al. Cut-outs of Goa’s tourist attractions were placed haphazardly around the stand looking like “out of place” individuals waiting to blend in. Worse, the reception counter was manned by an individual who did not seem Goan nor were there any other personnel from the tourism departments around.
Goa’s main industry is tourism. We have to make every effort to continue to showcase our beautiful State and its attractions. And, every opportunity that we have must be taken seriously. We cannot be complacent by attending events with no strategy in place. Our stalls at events as well as our personnel are the face of our State ~ hence my disappointment as well as shock. I would have thought that the tourism board would have gone the extra mile to portray Goa as a star holiday destination?
The tourism department and its agencies should plan a strategy to showcase Goa well. They should bring all stakeholders under one umbrella ~ charter facilitators, shacks, hotels, water sports, tour operators so that a uniformed, concise and cohesive strategy is put in place. All stakeholders must showcase their activities in one booth as it puts forward a united front. It is imperative to have a unified plan of action when it comes to making decisions that will affect the image of the State.
When I asked Narendra Shirodkar (Assistant Director Tourism & Executive Magistrate) about what they were showcasing at the travel mart, he was extremely uncertain of what they wanted to project and what image they wanted to create. It is disheartening when we see our beautiful Goa being exhibited so vaguely. Those who depend on tourism as their source of income, work hard enough throughout the year to maintain the State as a tourist attraction. Why can’t our so-called powerful government and semi government agencies at least take care of the face of Goa when appearing at a world platform? Do they even realise how shameful it is to be around massive stands of other countries which have fun attractions, food et al at their stalls? Goa should take a cue from other tourism boards like Sri Lanka, which had a well laid out booth.
Being one of the most successful industries in the State, tourism deserves to be portrayed in a way that is truly world class. With taxes and prices sky rocketing in Goa why can it not be channelled in the right way to promote the industry? Is it really necessary to get pictured on an international platform in a poor manner? Is it worth it? A lone booth in a corner does not do justice to what Goa has to offer tourists.
With at the moment, around 600,000 foreign tourists coming into Goa how do we expect to attract more with no vision to expose to the world? A well planned and executed stand will not only add face value to our tourism campaign but also tell the world that we care enough about our State to portray it in the best manner possible.