Tourism is the industry that drives the economy in the state. Cruise liners have been visiting the State over the past couple of years and attempts are being made to increase the number of such visits. It is estimated that in the next 5 years 950 cruise ships will enter Goan waters. There is also a proposal to introduce cruises from Mumbai to Bali. Hundreds of cruise industry jobs could be for the taking in the coming years, due to a concerted push by the Central government to promote the cruise tourism industry along the Western Coast. AJIT JOHN spoke to Parixit Pai Fondekar, director of the Goa-based American College of Culinary and Language Arts to find out more.
Are Goans being recruited in large numbers in the cruise industry?
PARIXIT PAI FONDEKAR:
Goans are preferred by international cruise line recruiters due to their command over the English language. On an average, close to 30 to 40% of the globally cruise line workforce comes from India. Of these around 60% comes from Goa itself. We see tremendous employment opportunity on board Asian cruises and I strongly believe the number of cruise ships targeted in five years will be achieved by good planning. The European off season is the season in Goa. We have a lot of ships coming here. The interest in Asia is ever increasing and the number of cruise liners are increasing their visits here and that is why the minister said he intended to push for that number over the next five years.
What does Goa have to offer to these tourists?
It is that unique Goan experience which cannot be found in any other part of the country. When we travel on the cruise liners, we see guests looking forward to getting off in Mumbai. For them it is something that attracts. We have a lot of things to offer in the state, nature and man-made. One of our star offering is the Basilica in Old Goa then the spice gardens and even a simple visit to the market, to check the local produce – that can be an experience in itself.
What kind of challenges do you visualise in the years ahead?
Numbers in terms of recruitment of personnel is decreasing from Goa because the number of trained people from other parts of the country is increasing. The growth of the Goan population is not as fast as in other states, other areas are catching up. When I say other areas I mean Kerala is a big market which is catching up really fast. We see students coming from Kerala, Tamil Nadu getting trained and taking advantage of the opportunities available. They get trained in the hotels and get placed. This increase is taking place at a rate of 15% and the decrease in the number of recruitment of Goans is around 25% which is dramatic for a state of our size.
What is the reason for this dramatic decrease in the number of Goans being recruited?
There is a particular way of choosing your career. Goans look and choose their careers based on what the people around them are doing ie friends and relatives. They don’t realise that when the relative got on board the market was different. Today the demand is no longer in service and housekeeping since there is hardly any employee turnover in these departments and the demand is in culinary. Possibly Goans have to change the way they think. Everybody wants to choose the easy way out and it may not be something that will take you long term. Today when you are young you need to develop your skills get experience and then start moving. We know of crew who are doing the same job for 10 to 15 years. Many of them get worn out. Very few are able to cross train and move out.