A zero draft of the ‘Goa 2035 — Vision and Road map’ submitted to the Goa government by a high-profile advisory council has rapped tourism officials for recklessly promoting a policy showcasing Goa as only a “fun” place.
The Goa Golden Jubilee Development Council (GGJDC) chaired by Raghunath Mashelkar has also recommended a cap on licences for construction of new tourist resorts or expansion of existing facilities in the north Goa tourist belt pending a review of the region’s carrying capacity for tourism.
“There is a need to review the Goa tourism policy and evaluate its direct and significant impact on the Goan culture and heritage... Goa is not only the land of sun and sand but a state having a rich yet diverse mosaic of culture blended with religious and communal harmony,” says the zero draft report.
The GGJDC consists of eminent scientists like former chairman of the Atomic Energy Establishment Anil Kakodkar, economists like former professor of Economics at IIM-A Errol D’Souza, literateurs like Girish Karnad, greens like Madhav Gadgil as well as officials of the Goa government.
The aim of the council, formed on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Goa’s liberation from Portuguese rule, was to create a vision and a road map for the state leading up to 2035.
The zero draft report was submitted by the GGJDC to the Goa government this month and will be officially released in June. According to CM Manohar Parrikar, the report will be placed in public domain for two months, inviting suggestions.
Once these are incoporated, it would become a reality. While advising the Goa government to move away from the “sun, sea and sand” type of tourism to reduce the over-supply of tourists in the already overburdened coastal belt, the GGJDC has advised caution against over-exploitation of eco-tourism.
The GGJDC has also recommended that tourism in Goa should wean itself away from mega players and instead focus on small-scale tourism where local communities are benefitted — “A participatory tourism by recognising the role of host communities as both producers and consumers of the tourism product and the importance of their well-being to the feel of the place.”
Goa’s tourism product needed to be diversified innovatively to accommodate adventure tourism, mangrove-based eco-tourism, agro-tourism and homestead tourism, the report says.
In a sharp reprimand of the Goa government and tourism machinery, the GGJDC has also advised against the rampant concretisation of Goa tourism’s golden goose, the Baga beach belt, visited by hundreds of thousands annually.