TTW – : Goa has remained one of the most sought after tourism destination in India. Where do you see the tourism flourishing down the years?
Nikhil Desai : In yesteryears Goa was known only for its beautiful beaches and tourists used to visit Goa only during the season (October to May). However, with concerted efforts in marketing and infrastructure development undertaken by the Goa Tourism, tourists now have many more things to do in Goa apart from just visiting the beaches. Goa Tourism lately through its numerous road shows in India had highlighted Goa as an excellent monsoon, wedding, honeymoon and MICE destination. The results of which, is already showing. Tourists have started visiting Goa during the monsoon season too, which means that Goa will soon turn to be a year-round destination.
International road shows too have helped us in the growth of foreign tourist inflow. We have had road shows in Russia, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany etc and more will be staged in other countries to inform and draw foreign tourists. We at Goa Tourism see a great future ahead as far as growth in tourists are concerned.
TTW – What are the initiatives taken to develop GOA as tourist destination?
Nikhil Desai : Goa has blessed with ample of beaches and keeping these beaches clean and safe becomes our major concern. The tourism department has taken an initiative to form a Comprehensive Management of Cleanliness on all the beach stretches across the state. This will be an integrated system comprising cleaning of beaches with mechanical and manual means wherever necessary, giving utmost priority to environment protection and pollution control of the sand and water.
Modern public amenities on all beaches is also on our priority. Soon, beaches in Goa will have mechanized electronic toilets, shower rooms and cloak rooms.
The Department of Tourism, Government of Goa has constituted strict measures to safeguard tourist safety, especially women travellers. One of the initiatives taken by the department specifically for women is by setting up of a Tourist Police Force comprising 200-250 IRB (Indian Reserve Battalion) Police. Around 50 of them will be lady constables. The Tourism Department also lifeguard services on all beaches to ensure that the lives of the tourists on beaches is not at risk throughout the year.
TTW: What is the main and the foremost attraction in Goa that has drove in more tourists?
Nikhil Desai : Our beaches still remain the driving force of the tourism industry in Goa. However, Goa Tourism is working at developing other areas like the hinterlands, heritage, adventure tourism and wellness tourism. We offer various packages to suit each ones needs. The Goa Tourism Development Corporation organizes backwater cruises, visit to heritage sites and many adventure sports activities like white water rafting, kayaking, paragliding, etc. Spas and retreats in Goa also offer a great experience to those who just wish to unwind and relax.
TTW: What are the global responses? Which foreign countries fair most to experience the tradition and history of GOA?
Nikhil Desai : Goa Tourism’s participation in various Toursim Trade fairs and efforts in organizing international road shows have really paid-off. We are also tapping new potential source markets like Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada and focusing on attracting high spending tourists. Countries like Russia, UK and Scandinavian countries love to experience the best part of Goa that is culture, history and the unforgettable warm Goan people.
TTW: What are your take in promoting Goa tourism as MICE industry for the global tourists?
Nikhil Desai : Goa is great destination for MICE where corporate can mix business with pleasure. MICE tourism has been on the rise, and hotels offer great deals for corporate houses especially in the monsoons. The challenge is to accommodate bigger groups of 2000-5000 people, for which we are working on developing infrastructure and partnerships with private hoteliers too.
TTW: With the recent fall in rupee what is the probable effect it is going to make on Indian Tourism?
Nikhil Desai : Yes, there is a slowdown in the economy of the European countries. Even though rupee devaluation is not welcomed but it will help the Indian tourism industry this year. Goa will be an attractive value for money destination. World is in recession and hence holiday makers are looking for the best deals. Goa can certainly be a right choice for travelers seeking for value for money. We expect foreign foreign tourism earnings to increase in the current year. Massive marketing drives will be launched in Europe and other key markets to attract foreign tourists. We are optimistic this tourist season 2013-14. The response for Monsoon tourism road shows has encouraged us and our efforts in marketing and promotions are paying rich dividends.
TTW: Online media marketing and digital marketing have become a vital part of promoting tourism….what is your take in this?
Nikhil Desai : Yes, I totally agree. Goa Tourism has renewed its focus to strengthen its social media platforms considerably and is working aggressively towards it. There is an enormous community of travellers online that loves Goa and is constantly looking to interact with us – whether it is information, deals or just updates.
Goa Tourism is very active on social media with a huge followings of 22,000 fans on Facebook and Twitter, and is growing rapidly every day.
Our latest online campaign therefore is focussed on promoting all the things that travellers can do in Goa during the forthcoming tourist season. Our Facebook and Twitter followers can post pictures of Goa through ‘Shade of Goa’ contest and stand a chance to win exciting holiday packages from Goa Tourism and other private hotels.
TTW: What are the steps taken to cater sustainable forms of tourism?
Nikhil Desai : We would like to highlight our culture, heritage, eco-tourism, hinterland, adventure tourism, MICE, weddings and other unexplored facets of the Goa. The idea is to position Goa as a year round destination with many options for the tourists. We are optimistic that these new tourism products will cater to every type of traveler and will not limit one’s experience to only beaches.
TTW: Which forms of tourism is most flourishing Goa?
Nikhil Desai : Festival Tourism – Goa Tourism aggressively promotes various festivals of Goa such as the Carnaval, Shigmo, Heritage festival, Sao Jao and Bonderam festival that are spread throughout the year. These festivals provide a whole new festival where tourists can experience Goan culture through its art.
Wedding Tourism – Goa, with its beautiful beaches, culture & traditions makes a perfect wedding destination. Every year more and more people are choosing Goa as their wedding destination. Goa has varied venue options from beaches, churches, temple, forts etc. Goa has identified wedding tourism as a thriving industry and wants to promote it aggressively amongst both, Indians as well foreigners.
MICE Tourism – Besides the above two, we also have MICE events that are on the rise and we hope to increase the numbers in the coming years.
TTW: How the wellness and spa of Goa has shaped the tourism of Goa?
Nikhil Desai : Spa and yoga retreat centres are booming in Goa. Goa has emerged as a hotspot for most tourists who travel on wellness vacations. Many spas offer different therapies where a tourist can indulge in a wellness vacation.