For months now, cabinet hasn’t approved draft tourism policy in Goa
The draft tourism policy, which contains an important component — provision for the constitution of a tourism board — has been hanging fire for the last few months. The tourism policy was sent for approval a few months ago, but the cabinet is yet to give it its nod.
According to sources, the bone of contention is apparently the constitution of the Goa tourism board. A senior tourism official, however, refused to divulge the reasons for the delay in approving the policy.
“We have processed the file for cabinet approval. I have no idea why it is still pending,” the officer said.
Tourism stakeholders feel the government must start implementation of the tourism policy with an eye on reviving the hospitality industry, which is facing its biggest ever crisis due to the pandemic
The travel and tourism association of Goa (TTAG) has written to the government to implement the policy at the earliest. “We have asked the government to implement the tourism policy as early as possible. This is the right time to take it forward,” TTAG president Nilesh Shah said.
While the tourism policy broadly covers various aspects, like coastal, cultural, heritage and nature-based tourism, leisure, entertainment, and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition (MICE), the provision for constituting the Goa tourism board is its most important feature.
In the last four years the TTAG has strongly advocated the constitution of a tourism board even though its suggestion that the board be an independent body failed to find favour in government quarters.
Many rounds of discussions were held over what should be the composition of the board. “It was agreed that the tourism minister will be its head with fair representation to be given to members of the trade. I can’t understand why it is still taking so much time to finalise it,” a tourism stakeholder, who was part of the policy drafting discussions, said.
He said that it has taken them over four years to finalise the tourism master plan and that if there is further delay in coming out with the policy, Goa tourism will continue like a headless chicken. “We want drastic changes in promotion and marketing of the destination. Without a policy in place we do not stand a chance,” he said.
With Goa losing its edge over other rival international destinations in the last few years, it is imperative and at this stage that the government make strategic moves to attract quality tourists, he said.