Hurray! Visa fees refund to foreign tourists on cards. In a bid to encourage more and more tourist to come to the coastal state, the State government is toying with the idea of partially refunding visa fees to the foreign tourists.
The high-level meeting called of all tourism stakeholders and experts, chaired by Tourism Minister Babu Azgaonkar, discussed the decrease in tourist arrival this season.
High visa prices, formalin issue are major issues which have led to the downfall of tourists this season, the tourism stakeholders have opined.
“Some people said visa rates were high and that had to be brought down. We will appeal to the Centre and try to give tourist some subsidy and try to get as many more tourists,” Azgaonkar told reporters after the meeting.
He said once the decision is reached they would try to pass it in the State Cabinet.
“We discussed problems of stakeholders but I do not think there is anything much only major was visa,” he said.
On taxis he said there are many complaints of overcharging.
“Taxi is a subject of transport ministers issue and i do not want to say anything. But till the meters are installed there won’t be any solution to overcharging issue,” he said.
Serafin Corte, president of Small and Medium Hoteliers Association, said that visa was the main issue discussed.
“Even though Visa is in Central subject, we have found out a way to refund the visa fees. It can be 25 p.c, 30 p.c or even 50 p.c,” he said adding this is just a suggestion which Tourism minister has assured to take it forward.
Asked how the refunds would be worked out, Corte said, refund counters will be set up at airport like the VAT refunds at many international airports.
“However, we have decided that it should be only for those who stay at registered hotels,” he said.
He said the government is worried that after mining even Tourism is collapsed.
“Finnair has stopped, tourists are going to other places and we needed to find out why?” he said.
He said besides visa the Formalin issue has also affected as it is expensive and secondly they doubt quality
“Tourists are shying away from fish,” he said.
Further, Ajgaonkar said that he would also work in close tandem with other government departments namely police and local authorities wherever required to ensure a clean and safe environment for tourists visiting Goa.
He also urged the stakeholders to deliberate with Goa Tourism and review the Marketing strategy in terms of its promotions nationally and internationally.
The tourism stakeholders urged Ajgaonkar to look into issues concerning harassment to tourists on various fronts, nuisances caused by organized begging at tourist locations, unreasonable taxi charges by local operators, high GST, pathetic condition of accesses to tourist locations, parking problems for long halt flights at Dabolim, high visa charges, need for introducing pay back incentives on visa charges, incentives to the hospitality industry etc.
The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) led by Mr. Savio Messias assured Mr. Ajgaonkar to submit a report shortly on various problems irking tourism in Goa which would further help the government tackle the problems, and also assured that the tourism stakeholders would jointly work out mechanisms with the government for improving tourism in Goa.
The Director, Dept. of Tourism, Govt. of Goa, Sanjiv Gadkar, Rajesh Kale, Dy. Director, Dept. of Tourism, Mr. Gavin Dias, GM – GTDC and members of the State Level Marketing and Promotion Committee, Mr. Nandan Kudchadkar and Mr. Abhijeet Walke were present.