Taking tourism towards Goan villages

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The government said it will make efforts to boost eco-tourism in the hinterland, specially in and around incredibly rich forests and wildlife areas of state, reports Asian Lite News

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant in his budget speech on Wednesday, tried to reposition the tourism sector away from the state’s popular beaches to the hinterland, especially in the lower reaches of the forested Western Ghats and rural areas of Goa, in order to ensure percolation of the spoils of tourism in the interior regions of the coastal state.

The state budget for the year 2022-23 which was tabled in the state assembly also proposes an eco-tourism policy for the state to engage the participation of the local population and generate employment.

“One of the priority and focus areas of my government is to make efforts to boost eco-tourism in the hinterland, specially in and around incredibly rich forests and wildlife areas of state,” the Chief Minister said in his budget speech.

“For this purpose, we will come up with an ‘Eco-tourism Policy’ which will lay emphasis on active participation of local people to provide them gainful employment opportunities. Adequate publicity of eco-tourism sites and facilities will also be made through various platforms, including social media,” Sawant also said.

The budget speech also proposed to develop hinterlands in the Western ghats under the aegis of eco-tourism.

“I propose to develop Goan Hinterlands through development of eco-tourism & nature education park for Western Ghats at Selaulim and trekking corridors and camping areas at Dudhsagar along with supporting infrastructure,” Sawant said.

Sawant also said that the Goa government would develop model villages to tap their potential as far as tourism is concerned.

“Under the ‘Development of Model Villages’ scheme, we will assist various villages based on their potential such as demographics, natural attractions and tourism development. For this purpose, a provision of Rs 4 crore has been made,” Sawant said.

The budget proposes to allocate Rs 247.16 crore for the tourism sector, which has been severely impacted by the pandemic, which led to only 26 lakh tourists visiting the state in 2020.

Sawant also announced the allocation of Rs 51.74 crore under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive of the Union Ministry of Tourism for the development of infrastructure and amenities at Basilica of Bom Jesus along with various other churches in Old Goa.

New airport

Goa’s upcoming international airport at Mopa in North Goa is expected to be completed by August this year, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said in his budget speech on Wednesday.

“The construction of Mopa airport is in full swing and the project is expected to be completed, commissioned and dedicated to the nation by August 2022 in commemoration of the 75th year of India’s independence,” the Chief Minister told the state legislative assembly.

Sawant also said that a provision of Rs 16 crore had been made in the budget for strengthening, widening and re-carpeting of the existing approach road to the airport.

In its first phase the airport is expected to cater to 4.5 million passengers and at the end of fourth phase its passenger handling capacity is expected to be 13 million.

Tourism top priority: Guv

The Goa government has given top priority to the tourism sector and is promoting various tourism-related verticals and working towards providing quality infrastructure for the tourists visiting the coastal state, Governor P. S. Sreedharan Pillai has said.

In his address to the newly-elected state legislative assembly, Pillai also said that the upcoming Mopa international airport in Goa, was likely to be commissioned by August this year.

“Tourism is one of the backbone of the State economy. More than 20 per cent of the population depends directly (and) indirectly on tourism and allied activities. ‘God’s Own Abode’ – Goa is known worldwide as the best and safest tourist destination for its clean beaches, ancient temples, churches, rich heritage, hospitality, rich diversified culture and its beauty,” Pillai said in his address.

“My government has given top priority to the tourism sector in order to promote health tourism, hinterland tourism, medical tourism, adventure tourism, eco-tourism, heritage tourism, spiritual tourism and provide best quality infrastructure for the tourists visiting our State,” he also said.

After being formally sworn-in as Chief Minister on Monday, Pramod Sawant had also said that his government’s endeavour was to make the coastal state the top tourism destination in the country.

The Governor also listed the various concessions given by the state government to sustain the industry, which has been severely impacted by the Covid pandemic, which had resulted in a sharp drop in the footfall of tourists, both domestic and international, to the state.

“The Tourism Shack Policy was formulated to create employment and business opportunities to the locals to earn their livelihood by granting 50 per cent concession in license fees to the shack allottees taking into account the financial losses incurred by them during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“My government is making efforts to promote and encourage more international chartered flights, ‘International Charter Support (waiver of landing fees) 2021’ scheme has been notified by way of waiving landing fees up to Rs 1 lakh,” Pillai also said.

Speaking about the development of the state’s upcoming airport at the Mopa plateau in North Goa, Pillai said: “The construction work of Mopa airport is expected to be completed and commissioned by August 2022”.

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