Goa tourism moves beyond beaches

Panaji: If you feel Goa is all about beaches, think again. The custodians of tourism here are going for new hooks.

The tourism industry here plans to aggressively pitch the state as a destination with ‘hidden treasures’ during the Goa International Tourism Mart (GITM), which gets under way next month.

GITM 2011, whose theme is ‘Unearth the Hidden Treasures of Goa’, will see tourism and travel industry representatives from the world over.
They will be shown largely untouched tourism interest points such as heritage, spice farms, river cruises, spas and the tropical rainforests the state is blessed with.

“Goa is placed firmly on the global travel map. The first edition of GITM held last year spearheaded its growth further, bringing better opportunities to the travel and tourism trade,” says Melvyn Vaz, Managing Director, Goa Tourism and Development Corporation (GTDC), which is organizing the event.

“GITM 2011, unlike other state-driven travel exhibitions that focus only on one state, will promote the entire western coast of India, bringing together many states on a common platform,” the organizers said.

According to Vaz, an aggressive marketing strategy had been crafted to attract over 2,500 visitors to the event.

“The target is to have 450 hosted buyers, including a large number of international hosted buyers,”’ he said.

Major Indian associations like the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) and the Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI) have confirmed participation.

He added that industry leaders, including ‘Incredible India’ mastermind Amitabh Kant and ‘Kuoni India’ Managing Director Rajiv Duggal, will be among speakers at the event.

Rika Jean-Francois, Sales Director for South Asia & Pacific, Internationale Tourismus-Borse (ITB), Berlin, a major event in global tourism and a GITM partner, said that issues like sustainable tourism development would be addressed.

“Consideration of ecological as well as social aspects have become a must along the tourism supply chain”’ Rika said. “A seminar will deal with its importance.”

The Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has backed the event. “GITM offers a perfect platform for local entrepreneurs to network with global firms and forge positive alliances,” GCCI president Manguirish Pai-Raikar said.

Revenue estimates of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa suggest that the tourism industry provides Rs. 850 crore to Goa government annually.