Poll code eating away at tourism pie
Stating that the government has turned completely insensitive towards the needs of the state tourism industry, the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa on Saturday said the department of tourism and not any political party should have written a letter to the Election Commission of India requesting relaxation in the restrictions imposed by the ECI over local tourism activities, in view of the model code of conduct.
Goa Forward Party president Vijai Sardesai on Friday had written a letter to the ECI stating that the tourism industry in the state has suffered major losses recently due to the restrictions imposed by the top election authority.
TTAG president Savio Messias told ‘The Navhind Times’ that local tourism stakeholders witnessed large cancellations in hotel bookings due to such election-related restrictions.
“The silence of Tourism Minister Manohar ‘Babu’ Azgaonkar on this issue is questionable,” he observed, pointing out that by the time the poll code is lifted in the last week of May, the tourist season would be over for Goa.
Maintaining that the Tourism Minister seems to be least bothered about the problems faced by the local tourism industry, the TTAG chief said that nowhere in the world, tourism destinations are made to suffer, during the elections.
“In all those parts of the world, there is no ban on liquor during the elections,” he mentioned.
“A lot of Goa’s tourism depends on the domestic tourism, and the domestic tourists come here for entertainment,” Messias reckoned, stating that young party crowds arriving in Goa from Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi have cancelled the hotel bookings due to the limitations and restrictions of the Election Commission of India.
“Of course, there is a section of crowd, which needs peaceful holiday,” he admitted.
The TTAG chief said the TTAG had made a representation to the government about two years ago, with a suggestion that the government should take up this matter with the ECI.
“But clearly, the government, more so the tourism department seems to have turned a blind eye to our memorandum,” he lamented, adding that the pressure on the ECI should have come from the government.
Messias also said the tourism department has dismally failed to curb the exorbitant hikes in excise licence fees.
“It’s difficult for the tourism industry in Goa to sustain and survive in this environment,” he concluded.
Sardesai told ‘The Navhind Times’ that everyone from the establishment seems to helplessly accept the restrictions of the poll
code without questioning their justification as to whether these measures actually have a bearing on affecting electoral neutrality.
“But we as elected representatives of the state and especially being part of the government cannot betray our responsibility to the people of the state,” the TCP Minister added, pointing out that whilst democracy is about people, we must not forget that economy also concerns people.
“Restrictions which affect tourism industry are needless and since the industry is apolitical, I strongly feel that the Election Commission of India should accept the general sentiment and take corrective measures,” he noted
Incidentally, Sardesai’s letter has not gone well with the Tourism Minister.
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