Goa to focus on regenerative tourism to attract more travellers

While Goa’s beaches have been one of the favourite destination for tourists, the state is now looking to attract travellers looking for regenerative tourism.

The campaign called “Goa Beyond Beaches”, for instance, encourages tourists to explore Goa’s serene villages, where the absence of network connectivity allows for a tranquil escape. Another programme called Ekadasha Teertha lays emphasis on spirituality and conscious tourism.

Rohan A. Khaunte, Minister of Tourism, Goa, said, “With the launch of Ekadasha Teertha, we are giving Indian tourism a fresh look with an emphasis on spirituality, indigeneity, cultural and civilizational nationalism, and conscious tourism. Through travel and pilgrimage, the Indian people have expanded their geographical knowledge over millennia, freeing themselves from the constraints of regionalism and parochialism.”

He further added, “We are committed to making a positive difference in the environment, culture, and communities we interact with, and this is reflected in our support of regenerative tourism in Goa. Our goal in introducing this model is to encourage the travel and tourism sector to adopt sustainable practices that benefit both the environment and the human population.”

He revealed that 16.4 percent of Goa’s GDP and more than 33 percent of employment come from tourism. The minister elaborated on his plans to connect Goa with tier 2 cities and promote Uttarkashi-Dakshinkahi Teerth. An MOU has been signed between Uttarakhand and Goa, with the states aiming to ‘connect seas to the hills,’ to experience the best of both worlds.

In 2018, 70.8 lakh domestic tourists visited Goa, compared to 9.3 lakh international tourists. Last year, there were 70.1 lakh domestic tourists and only 1.7 lakh international tourists. Suneel Anchipaka, Director of Tourism and MD, IAS, said, ‘Out of one crore tourists, every ten lakh tourists are from the countries of Russia and Ukraine. After the Russia-Ukraine war, the numbers dropped drastically.”

Khaunte added that Goa is transitioning from a sea-shore-centric tourism model to a more inclusive, people-centric approach. The impact of climate change and calls for democratization necessitate a paradigm shift beyond sustainability towards regenerative tourism, which they expect will draw the crowd back through these new approaches.

In a bid to offer a more authentic Goan experience, the state government is advocating the concept of homestays over traditional hotels for a genuine taste of Goan village life.

Khaunte’s vision of “Goa Beyond Beaches” encourages tourists to explore the serene villages, where the absence of network connectivity allows for a tranquil escape. One such example is the Brahmini Self Help Group, comprising 8-10 local women managing a guesthouse. The village, which is only dependent on BSNL for communication, offers an ideal location for a digital detox, with over 570 bird species for enthusiasts to discover.

The Brahmini group is thriving under the government’s home-stay promotion policy. The government provides an incentive of ₹2 lakh for the first 100 homestays run by such groups, like the Brahmini group.

For a fee of ₹2,000 per person per day, guests are treated to three authentic Goan meals. The group, which generated a revenue of ₹2.5 lakh between April and November 2023, has hosted over 100 international tourists. Each woman in the self-help group earns nearly ₹5,000 for every group booking. Despite limited capacity, the project gained popularity through word of mouth, with plans to establish an independent website for bookings.

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