The Goa Small and Medium Hoteliers Association of Goa has said that unchecked online room aggregator services, mushrooming illegal guest houses and wholesale liquor shops doing unchecked retail business were the bane of Goa’s tourism. At a press conference here on Monday, president of the association, Serafino Cotta, demanded that the Goa Tourism Trade Act be amended to check and regulate most of these ills. He also blamed lopsided regulation and a unresponsive State Tourism Ministry being busy selling “refrigerators to Eskimos”.The medium and small hoteliers held poor management of the tourism industry responsible for declining footfalls. “There is a sharp drop in arrivals. Instead of looking to arrest this fall, the Tourism Ministry is going to travel marts in countries which hardly have any interest in Goa. They are visiting international markets where the officials have a good holiday,” alleged Mr. Cotta. Mr. Cotta said the biggest problem encountered by them was unregulated accommodation, which he said accounted for nearly 85% of all accommodation in the State. “Illegal conversion of second homes into boutique hotels and bed and breakfast ventures is bleeding the genuine hotel industry. These outfits get liberal licences under an antiquated Tourism Trade Act , do not pay adequate taxes, tariffs as per hospitality structure and thus deny a level playing field for medium and small hotels, and eventually cause a loss of revenue to the State,” said Santanio D’Souza, secretary of the association. “Online room aggregators with their aggressive pricing have also driven the room prices down making it difficult for small and medium hotels to survive. At the same time the low prices has promoted ‘cheap tourism’,” said joint- secretary Pifran Fernandes. Mr. Cotta also demanded a ban on wholesalers of alcohol being given retail liquor licences, which he said, had triggered an unhealthy trend of tourists drinking in public places leading to nuisance. “People buy drinks from wholesale liquor stores, which are cheap and start drinking on the streets and just litter the surroundings and beaches. Goa is projected as a destination where alcohol can be purchased even in a supermarket,” Mr. Cotta said.
Former hockey captain and Olympian Dhanraj Pillay on Wednesday joined the increasing chorus of voices demanding that batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar be given the ‘Bharat Ratna’ by the Indian government. “Sachin certainly deserves to be conferred the Bharat Ratna for the way he has been playing for the last 22 years. He was the mastermind of our World Cup victory,” said Pillay, who has represented India in four Olympics and hockey World Cups. Pillay, who spoke on the sidelines of the function to release veteran photographer Mohan Bane’s pictorial book on the Beijing Olympics with English captions, The Gold Wall of India, also believed that Tendulkar should play in the next World Cup in 2015. “He’s as fit as a 19 or 20 year old and he should play in the next World Cup too,” said Pillay about Tendulkar who would be turning 38 on April 24. Union Energy Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde also said Tendulkar deserved to be honoured with the Bharat Ratna. “Just like Donald Bradman, Tendulkar has brought happiness to the cricket fans of the world with his batsmanship. He deserves to be conferred with the Bharat Ratna,” said Shinde who was among the dignitaries present at the book release event. With inputs from PTI