” One can agree with TTAG that government support to tourism is way below expectations. CRT, however would like to see budget allocations for the small and medium sectors. But this is a government out of touch with reality and one should opt for minimal expectations.”
Even as chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar said his government is committed to doubling tourist footfalls, there was nothing special on offer for the tourism industry in the budget presented on Wednesday. The chief minister has earmarked 50 crore towards marketing and promotional activities and 80 crore for infrastructure projects for 2016-17 whereas it was 260 crore in 2015-16. The reduction in budgetary allocation of tourism industry which contributes in a big way to the economy was a surprise to many. The fund allocation to the tourism department was significantly, after BJP came to power in March 2012. Industry stakeholders expressed displeasure over lack of focus on the tourism sector. Travel and tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), a body representing hoteliers and travel firms, claimed it was not happy with the budget. Francisco de Braganca, TTAG president, commenting on the budget, said, “Tourism is not given the importance it deserves. I did not see any focus on its development.”
Referring to the budgetary allocation of 130 crore, 50 crore for tourism promotion and 80 crore for tourism infrastructure, he said there is no break-up of purposes for which funds will be utilized. “In the absence of details it is difficult to comment specifically. But, we can only hope that promotional expenditure is channelized towards promotional support to international tour operators and not only for road shows,” he said.
Parsekar spoke about some of the old initiatives such as e-visa facility at Dabolim airport and life guarding services, but there was no attempt to offer solution to any of the problems plaguing the industry.
Braganca also pointed out he did not see any thrust on completion of the tourism master plan and constitution of tourism master plan.
Without these two, he said infrastructure expenditure will be unplanned and may not help in tourism promotion. He further said nothing has been done to plug leakages and bring the entire hospitality industry under the tax bracket as a result of which, the legitimate industry continues to bear brunt of taxation burden.