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GTDC plans new services before tourism policy release

NT NETWORK

Panaji

The Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) has floated a tender for introduction of various new tourism-related services, preferably in view of the forthcoming tourism season, which commences on September 15, contradicting the statement made by Minister for Tourism Manohar ‘Babu’ Ajgaonkar, during the  recently concluded monsoon session of the state legislative assembly that the State Tourism Policy as well as the State Tourism Master Plan would be prepared by taking into confidence all the legislators, and all the new tourism-related services will reflect in these documents.

The GTDC has, however, invited Request for Proposal (RFP) from single entities, joint ventures and consortia for introduction of new tourism services in Goa, the projects under the same being conceptualisation and end-to-end management of brewery tours on turnkey basis, conceptualisation and

end-to-end management of bike tours on turnkey basis and conceptualisation, development, operation and maintenance of hanging restaurant.

It clearly appears that these projects are either not part of the State Tourism Policy/ State Tourism Master Plan, and have been hurriedly implemented before the release of these policy documents by the government.

Furthermore, questions are being raised by the stakeholders in the tourism department over these projects since in the past, the GTDC had appointed consultants for studying similar projects, after which tenders were also floated, with no project either seeing the light of the day or turning successful. The government, however, had to shell out exorbitant sum of money to hire consultants for these projects.

Such failed projects include development of a ropeway between Panaji and Reis Magos for which a concessionaire Royal Rides had been engaged, and an amphibious bus built by Automobile Corporation Goa Ltd (ACGL) in association with Goa-based Amphibious Design India, which has been stuck on land, due to the absence of necessary permissions from the central government authorities.

Some more projects include introduction of amphibian aircraft services, which did not go beyond test flight of a seaplane landing in River Mandovi; a helipad at Sinquerim that was opposed by the concerned local panchayat and people; and hot-air balloon rides, with one of such balloons unceremoniously landing in the fields of Shiroda village.

The three recent facilities for which the GTDC has floated tender, include a brewery tour when Goa has neither a vineyard nor a brewery worth its mention like those existing in places like Nashik.

Furthermore, although another project of the GTDC comprises of bike tours, Ajgaonkar himself had previously launched electric bikes or e-bikes in November 2018, in collaboration with Acris Tours Pvt Ltd. The new tender could very well be duplication of the same.

Finally, the hanging restaurant concept may face problems as regards permissions pertaining to the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), especially as the department of tourism has already failed to get such permissions for its projects proposed under the Swadesh Darshan scheme of the Centre.

In fact, under the particular scheme, in the absence of CRZ permissions, the department could use only Rs 69 crore out of total Rs 100 crore, in the first phase, with Rs 31 crore returning back to Centre, and in the second phase, hardly Rs 13 crore out of Rs 100 crore have been used on projects till now.   

Incidentally, the agencies applying for the tender should submit their bids by September 6, 2019.

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