National Tourism Day celebrates tourists who come from distant lands to enjoy our nature, culture and history. Goa has the distinction of being the Tourist Capital of India, but of late, the competition is growing all around us as every State from faraway North East, to our neighboring States are trying to maximize their tourism potential.
It’s in such a scenario that Goa Tourism is celebrating National Tourism Day 2023, with the theme ‘Rural & Community Centric Tourism’. We have already realised that Goa can comprehend its full tourism potential only by going beyond the Beach & Casino Circuit. We need to tap into the abundant potential of our hinterlands, and it is with this realisation that Goa Tourism is promoting Hinterland Tourism. To complement the natural potential of our hinterlands with tourism amenities, we are giving a proactive push for homestays that will bring in the economic benefits of tourism into the hinterlands. Moreover, homestays will generate employment opportunities for the womenfolk in hinterlands and bring about their economic empowerment.
Tourists need variety, and although our beach circuit is still a prime attraction, the need of the hour is to diversify by projecting the concept of Quality Tourism that gives tourists an option beyond the beaches and casinos, taking them into the kulagars, backwaters, river tourism, trekking trails, etc. Sustainable tourism depends on tourists who are attracted by Goa’s natural beauty and bounty. For that we need to leverage our well-endowed natural potential with amenities, thus giving an attractive alternative to those who otherwise enter and exit Goa through a casino. We need to come up with versatile offers to suit every level of tourists, inorder to be one up on the burgeoning competition around us.
Skilling up our youth to meet the demands of quality tourism at international levels is of utmost importance, along with upgradation of our infrastructure to meet international standards. We need to upscale our skills of service and hospitality and equip ourselves to cater to the niche segment, while at the same time continuously improvising on handling the regular tourist segments.
Although we had a good Christmas/New Year tourist season, we cannot just rest on our traditional beach circuit tourism but need to diversify into Hinterland, Nature, Spiritual Tourism, etc. Secondly, while the Manohar International Airport at Mopa is projected to bring in more tourists we should also remember that these tourists coming through Mopa Airport have an alternative of a similar and rather more pristine beach circuit just across the nearby border. Hence, unless we pull up our socks, we will not benefit fully from the additional inflow of tourists through Mopa Airport.
Presently, Goa is still one up on the beach circuit compared to our competition as far as infrastructure is concerned, but we need to leverage this advantage with cleanliness, uniformity in rates & services and better last mile connectivity.
Goa Tourism Department has already embarked on diversification by tapping into our rural tourism potential to ensure economic empowerment of our rural women, while providing fresh hinterland alternatives to tourists. We look forward to all stakeholders to adopting a more receptive approach to changes around us.
(Rohan Khaunte is Goa’s Tourism Minister)