Goa will have to re-invent its tourism profile and go back to the pristine 1960s, to get the industry back on its feet, Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters outside Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s official residence in Panaji, Ajgaonkar also said, that the state would only focus on ‘wealthy tourists’ and stay way from budget and local-spending tourists in the future.
“We have to recreate the Goa of the 1960s to kickstart our tourism again. In 1960s, Goa was beautiful and now in 2020 it is very different with more than 8 million visiting tourists,” the Tourism minister said.
“What we are trying to do along with experts, is to take Goa back to the 1960s. We do not want tourists who consume drugs, cook on our roads or who create nuisance on beaches. We want good tourists who are wealthy and who can appreciate Goa and its culture,” Ajgaonkar said.
In the late 1960s, Goa was put on the international tourism map by hippies. After being a backpackers’ haven for several decades, Goa saw a tourism boom since 2007, with liberal licencing introduced in the casino industry, which saw tourist footfalls jump from two million a year to nearly eight million in the 2019-20 tourism season.
Tourism, social and transport infrastructure however did not keep pace with the manifold increase in arrivals, putting stress on the existing infrastructure.
With the COVID-19 pandemic virtually throwing the tourism industry in the slump worldwide, Goa has had to face the brunt of the severe travel restrictions.
“We have to start off from zero. We are right actually in a minus-zero stage now,” Ajgaonkar said.
The Tourism Minister said that the state’s tourism industry would be able to find its feet only when a vaccine or a cure is developed to counter COVID-19.
“Until state-to-state level travel can happen we cannot do anything. I feel only when a vaccine is invented or a cure is developed, that tourism movement will begin to happen in Goa,” Ajgaonkar said.
Goa is regarded as one of the leading beach and nightlife tourism destinations in the country.