Goa to refurbish tourism image

The Asian Age
Panaji, Mar 15,2010: Goa is slowly but surely shedding its “anything goes”
image, as tourism officials and police tighten law enforcement in
tourist related areas.

A series of crackdowns over the past week have heralded an end to the
state’s “live and let live” image, agrees Lyndon Monteiro officer on
special duty for tourism.

“It’s true Goa had this image of an anything goes place, but times
have changed and this image in its negative sense has to stop. We
cannot let it continue”, says Monteiro. He said high power meetings of
tourism stakeholders, police officials and government over the past
weeks following the spate of negative media coverage last month, had
arrived at a consensus of sorts on this.

The result is a crackdown from the police department. In the past
days, several night clubs have been served warnings for blaring loud
music. Officials are contemplating increased patrols in a once
off-limit area of Baga street, known for its night life and party
culture that often spills onto the streets.

Arrests have also been effected in the coastal belt with anti-narcotic
cell picking up three biggies in the drug trade in the past fortnight.
The clean-up has included the police department itself, with five of
its personnel suspended for links with the drug mafia.

As part of pulling up its socks the administration and Goa’s tourism
department has published new advisories to tourists listing dos and
dont’s including asking visitors to avoid going topless on two
wheelers, and cover up while visiting religious shrines. The booklet
published in English and Russian, will likely see a German edition and
other translations in the future, said tourism director Swapnil Naik.

Naik stresses the booklet additionally lists helplines and contact
numbers for visitors in distress.

But there is no denying that the holiday industry is taking a hard
look at its tourism profile. Ralph de Souza, hotelier and head of the
tourism association here has stressed the state has taken a long time
to build its image as a safe holiday destination for families.

Since then the proliferation of night clubs and more recently permits
to casinos has affected that profile, he admits. While seven offshore
casinos are licensed to ply, just two ships are currently operational,
given the stiff competition and high taxes imposed by government.

“I’m sure now they have been permitted, they can be strictly monitored
to ensure they run legally and within the confines of the law”, says
Monteiro. (ends)

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