Manohar Azgaonkar outlines his priorities for tourism with regards to safety and security of tourists
Panjim, 18th April: Be it on or off the coast, tourists make Goa their preferred destination to holiday every season. The increasing number of arrivals whether from the national segment or international segment reinforces one fact that Goa is a much loved destination all through the year.
From 27.88 Lakhs tourist arrivals in 2012 to 63.30 Lakhs tourist arrivals reflecting an increase of 44% in both domestic and foreign arrivals to the state. With over 4.50 Lakhs foreign tourist arrivals in 2012 to 6.80 lakhs arrivals in 2016 reflecting an increase of 66%. The e-tourist visa alone contributed to one lakh tourists arrivals a year, with other arrivals by luxury cruise vessels, charters.
The Government of Goa, through the Department of Tourism and Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) have been working round the clock not only to cater to the rise in tourist arrivals by way of providing tourism related infrastructure, but also providing safety and security measures round the clock.
While security measures have been augmented over the years at the Goa airport, security measures at the State borders have also been tightened giving tourists a sense of surety on the safety cover available in the State right from point of arrival.
Safety measures at hotels, tourist spots and across the state is visible and increasing substantially.
A safety and security cover on the beach through a 100 odd IRB force, more than 600 lifeguards, special women taxi services and CCTV cameras at several tourist locations have added more impetus on safety measures in the state.
Minister for Tourism, Govt of Goa, Mr. Manohar Azgaonkar said, “We have set the agenda for tourism in Goa, with Safety and Security of tourist being the No 1 priority for the tourism department. The Goa government through the Home department is augmenting budgets for improving safety and security measures in the State keeping in mind the tourism industry and the importance of providing a safe holiday for tourists visiting Goa.”
Known to be a destination for single women travelers, in Goa, a special women’s helpline 1091 has been set up and two women police stations in each of the respective state districts have also been providing services to women in distress.
Likewise, a women taxi service, exclusively for women travelers has been functioning successfully and has given a big boost to women travelers. Records show that while women domestic travelers use this facility extensively, more than 10 per cent of the commuters have been foreign women travelers.
On the beach, lifeguards have been keeping a close watch on and off the waters and have rescued hundreds of tourists from drowning while swimming. A beach patrol till midnight is also provided and several rescue cases reported.
Today, the State government through the Department of Tourism have availed of funds under the Swadesh Darshan scheme for installing CCTV cameras on the beach belt. The first phase which covers Sinquerim to Keri is already in progress of installations of the surveillance systems and the second phase covering Panjim to Canacona is awaiting approvals and will be implemented as soon as the same is obtained. Special control rooms for monitoring the CCTV footage will be set up at Tourist Information Centers at various locations identified. To monitor beach activities at shacks, CCTVs will be made mandatory for all shacks operating on the beaches.
Mr. Nilesh Cabral, Chairman, GTDC said, “We have never compromised on tourist safety in Goa. Every year the focus is on stepping up these measures and all agencies involved in this are doing their best to ensure that tourists have a safe holiday in Goa.”
Even during festivals and events which draw lakhs of tourists, the safety cover is doubled and police have kept a hawks eye on larger events like Carnaval, Shigmo, Zatras and feasts celebrated by various communities.
Goa Tourism and Goa Tourism Development Corporation also use their social media platforms which includes facebook, twitter, G +, Instagram and other websites to sensitize tourists on the do’s and don’ts while holidaying in the state. The tourism department and GTDC also work with the hotel industry and other tourism stakeholders to create awareness among tourists on the safety aspects while touring Goa.