Goa planning a spruce up?

India’s most popular tourist destination these days is pitted against Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Sri Lanka, which are preferred destinations for many international tourists. Goa is now looking for private players to develop projects on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

“We need to create better facilities and provide more than just beaches for tourists. If anybody has an idea, then I invite them to come and talk to the government. We are keen to develop such facilities,” said minister for tourism Francisco Xavier Pacheco. This includes a proposal to set up amusement parks, a golf course and even promote medical tourism, all of which attract a holidaymaker to come again to Goa.

Though some 25,69,000 tourists visited Goa in 2006-07, yet the annual growth rate has fallen drastically. A 3% growth rate in 2006-07 is in stark contrast to the average 25% in 1999-2000. The number of tourists visiting the state is further likely to fall by 20% in the forthcoming season — beginning October — due to a recession that has affected the tourism industry the world over.

According to tour operators, rising room rates, unavailability of good hotels and lack of basic infrastructure like good roads along the state’s coastal belt is driving away tourists. Says Ralph D’Souza, chairman, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa : “Goa became popular as a ‘value for money’ destination. But now our room rates are at least 30% higher than places like Thailand and Indonesia. It is 10% more expensive than even Malaysia. This is taking away customers.

More: The Economic Times

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