BUILD INFRASTRUCTURE, SCREEN TOURISTS!

Tap a young entrepreneur’s views on what’s affecting the quality of tourism in Goa today and this is his feedback…

By Ujjwal Tripathi

THERE seems to be a negative sentiment regarding the situation of tourism in the state of Goa. Primarily, these sentiments are born because the beaches are filled with rubbish and prime tourist locations have now become a pale shadow of the original places.
Some of us think it is the responsibility of the tourists and that there should be some sort of screening of tourists entering Goa. Others think that it is the responsibility of the government and law enforcement to ensure that the environment is kept clean. But how do you screen or filter people? What is the basis for such screening and filtration? This may very well be unconstitutional! Then again, to what extent can the law enforcement officers go? They cannot baby-sit every tourist wanting to come into Goa.
There is another problem. A situation like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdowns were enforced by the government and it brought and the stoppage of tourist entry into Goa brought the tourism industry to its knees. It still hasn’t been able to get back to the old normal. With such a pandemic it has become clear to every business and commercial activity of the economy that local self-sufficiency is the key to sustainability. It is imperative that business be able to survive with minimal dependence on demand/traffic from outside their state/national boundaries.
This brings us to another increasingly important point. Goa is almost entirely dependent on leisure tourism. But the truth is people don’t travel only for leisure and relaxation but also for a host of other reasons, even more so during the pandemic. The pandemic has given us an opportunity to tune our activities to perform well in worst- case scenarios.
In my experience, there are destinations that have benefitted for being well known for their medical services or even education hubs. Being a post-graduate student at a business school currently, most of my colleagues are returning to the institute. I also happen to have colleagues who will be travelling abroad on exchange programs in 2021. Their presence in a foreign country requires them to spend money in that country one way or another.

How do we use this information to our benefit?
It is certainly not the case that someone at the helm of affairs will click a button and all of a sudden tourism will back in Goa in all its former glory. It is going to be a long haul back to normality and it will require a plan that will be immune to changes in power. It must be a 5-year plan that ensures necessary action on behalf of law- enforcement, the government, local residents and businesses that woo good, high-quality tourism. There must be a provision for investing in top-quality educational institutes, which would result in recurring spending in the economy and possibly even see conversion from students to entrepreneurs and business owners, fuelling the local economy and attracting immigration and investment in Goa.
Lastly, branding goes a long way. There are many examples in India such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, which are currently getting the lion’s share of quality tourism, and other countries like Malaysia, New Zealand, etc, which have done some phenomenal work in branding and advertising their homes. This, of course, must first be backed up with solid and robust institutes, law-enforcement, and commercial activities.

(Ujjwal Tripathi is a young catering mangement entrepreneur in Goa)

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