Port Minister Michael Lobo said that the tourism industry in the state has been on the decline as there have been no corrective steps from the government. Speaking to media persons, he said that he will soon write to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Tourism Minister Manohar Azgaonkar on the worsening situation in the tourism sector. Calangute MLA Lobo observed that there has been no worthwhile business in the sector for the last three months as tourists are giving a miss to Goa. Despite the state passing through the usual peak season, the hotel occupancy has gone down by 50 per cent as of Friday. Some wrong moves made in the past have pushed the sector towards a slump in this international tourist destination. The government must take corrective steps to turn around the industry, he reckoned. The minister, however, hoped that the hotel occupancy could see an uptick next week as EDM and other festivals have been scheduled to usher in the New Year. He opined that festivals like Sunburn must be held twice to pull more tourists into the state. The tourism department, the Goa Tourism Development Corporation, the Tours and Travels Association of Goa and other stakeholders should hold meetings every fortnight to understand and assess the issues, Lobo felt. “If such regular interactions take place then a solution could emerge to various issues plaguing the tourism industry,” he hoped.
Even as the High Court has issued strictures on the organisation of Sunburn Klassique event, Minister for Waste Management, RDA and Ports has come out in support of such EDM festivals and has even called for these events to take place twice a year to boost tourism. “Right now the tourism is in a bad shape, the hotel occupancy is just 50 per cent and we are in the peak season. This will have an adverse impact on the dwindling economy,” said Lobo. He added that events like Sunburn bring in a mixed crowd, which will help bring back tourism on track. “During Sunburn, the bookings should touch 80 per cent and I am for such events being organised at least twice a year,” he said. On the tourism slowdown, he said there are various factors impacting the industry in Goa right now. “I will write to the Chief Minister and the Tourism Minister to hold a fortnightly meeting to discuss the shortcomings and the solutions required, for bringing the sector back on track. I will ask them to make me a part of the meetings,” he said. He also said the government and panchayats have to act strongly against the homestay businesses that are eating into the pie of hoteliers. “I will ask the tourism minister and panchayats to act against them as the homestay businesses operated by a particular company is not paying any taxes to the government, besides the water and electricity is billed at domestic consumer rate,” he added. He also called on the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) to act strongly on the same issue as well.