Goa needs to tap high spending tourists, improve law enforcement: Tourism Minister

For Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte, quantity is out of fashion, and quality is the new mantra to embark on a mission to make Goa the tourism capital of India. While acknowledging the nuisance created by some desi tourists, he said, the focus will be to enforce existing laws to keep such elements in check. With the digital concept gaining ground, he also stressed using technology to expand tourism avenues and urged the taxi operators to embrace innovative apps to run their taxi business in changing scenario

AGNELO PEREIRA | JUNE 19, 2022, 12:11 AM IST

The Goan: You have maintained that tourists should be treated with the utmost respect and the police should stop harassing them. But, how do you tackle unruly tourists who throw all caution to the winds and zip around with their vehicles on roads and beaches, litter the shores with alcohol bottles and cook in the open fields?

Rohan Khaunte: The longer vision of the State is to have quality tourism where we have the right set of people coming in. Today we have quantity. The type of tourist coming here is not the spending type of tourist. We need to tap the high-spending tourists.

Tourists are free to use any means of conveyance, but that does not mean he violates laws. But when he is wearing a helmet and follows all the laws but is still being stopped because he is using a rent-a-bike or when police see outstation registration vehicle and stop them, that’s a mistake. Tourists coming to see Goa become brand ambassadors of Goa. You cannot give them bad memories.

But those tourists who use common open places for littering, cooking and drinking need to be stopped. There are laws in place but enforcements are less. We are going to focus on enforcement as a policy. We are going to see that those tourists who gather on the highway, under the bridge and on footpaths stop. They get out of the bus and start cooking…This has to stop. This is not the kind of tourism we want.

TG: The public transport system in the State is very poor. Several tourists prefer to come to Goa with their vehicles and thereby put pressure on the road infra. Don't you think the public transport system needs a major overhaul?

RK: At the moment, I don’t see that kind of pressure on roads except during the peak season when the roads along the coast get chock-a-block. Tourists coming with their vehicles are not a problem. People coming by flights, trains or buses have to be accommodated by different profiles of public transport. I think the Kadamba and transport department is working on the concept of EV vehicles which will focus on rural connectivity and in terms of tourism. Kadamba (Kadamba Transport Corporation) has become the only source of public transport in the State. We have to ensure it’s built properly to support the ecosystem of other trades.

: Don’t you think Goa needs a better public transport system?


RK: We have taxis that are available as a mode of transport for tourists. We need to improvise and get going.

: But the allegations that taxis overcharge continue to stick, and several taximen who have fixed digital meters are yet to charge fares through these meters.


RK: Our taxi operators need to understand that they are also ambassadors of the State. Out of 10, two or three taxi operators have an issue, which brings a bad name to the community. We have to understand that we cannot keep technology aside. We have to see how it can be a win-win situation whether in the taxi business or something else.

TG: Do you think taxi aggregates like Ola or Uber should come to Goa?

RK: Technology cannot be stopped. But at the same time our own Goans…I am ready to provide them with an ‘app’ that they can run. The government can act as a facilitator. We can provide it to them if they want to run it. People who work on apps make more business. With the app system in place, more people will use taxis and mobility becomes better. Public transport is improvised, and automatically the whole economy runs well.

Technology needs to be introduced by taking the stakeholders into confidence. People who are in the taxi business need to understand how tourism is moving throughout the world.

TG: What’s your take on illegal constructions that are carried out by celebrities like Mika Singh along the Goan coast? Will it have an impact on the coast and tourism?

RK: First and foremost illegalities by anyone, be it, Mika or anyone...We should deal with such people with a firm hand so that illegalities do not happen. Coastal belt prominently, whether it is people from our State or people coming from outside to settle here. If somebody has bypassed a legal process, due action needs to be taken. 

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