Published on : Friday, August 1, 2014
Tourism industry stakeholders alleged that Goa ministers’ remarks on a ban on wearing bikinis on Goa’s beaches and demanding a Hindu nation have “really damaged” reputation of the state as a safe beach destination.
On Wednesday, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar admitted to putting a partial gag order on all his ministers, after Cooperation Minister Deepak Dhavalikar and Public Works Department Minister Sudin Dhavalikar triggered national controversies by their remarks. On Monday, Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza said India was already a ”Hindu nation”, a comment which had attracted a lot of criticism and was reported internationally.
Vice President of Kuoni Travels (India), Ernst Dias, a top Swiss-based tourism operator, said he received numerous calls from tourism agents across the world after the comment made by the PWD minister on bikini prohibition went viral, asking whether female tourists would really be allowed to wear bikinis on Goa’s popular beaches.
According to Dias, comments made by Goa’s ministers and by union Tourism Minister Shripad Naik, who had expressed his wish to discourage “pub culture”, concerned the tourism industry. Kuoni Travels sourced 94,000 international charter tourists to Goa.
Charles Bonifacio, head of Goa chapter of Skal International, a worldwide network of professionals promoting tourism, told IANS the ministers and officials should restrain from making comments in order to save Goa’s tourism industry from harm.
Goa is one of the leading beach and nightlife tourist destinations in the country and draws three million tourists yearly out of which half a million are foreigners.