PANAJI: The Shiv Sena Monday said minister Manohar Ajgaonkar’s controversial remarks about visitors to Goa did not augur well for the tourism industry which was the key revenue earner for the coastal state.
Goa Tourism Minister Ajgaonkar’s remarks in which he threatened to “chase away” tourists who defied Goan culture reflected his “arrogance”, Shiv Sena’s Goa spokesperson Rakhi Prabhudesai Naik said.
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“This kind of an arrogant statement does not augur well for the growth of tourism industry in the state,” she said.
Naik added that while foreign tourists visited Goa on shoe-string budgets, domestic travellers spent money on their vacations in the state.
“Ajgaonkar should remember that after the systematic collapse of the mining industry by the state government which he supports, Goa’s economy is solely dependent on tourism,” Naik said in a statement issued here.
“Statements after statements against domestic tourists by ministers in the state cabinet seem to be a planned move towards achieving a certain goal, which we can’t predict right now,” she said.
These jibes against tourists did not come out of nowhere, she said, alleging that they were planned and could be aimed at helping the five-star hotel lobby or certain other sections of the tourism industry.
Naik said after becoming the tourism minister, Ajgaokar had suddenly started espousing the cause of “Goenkarponn” (Goanness).
“He has forgotten the fact that he is representing the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, which was all out to sell ‘Goenkarponn’ during the (1967) opinion poll (referendum) time,” she alleged.
Naik said the tourism minister needed lessons on the state’s economy.
“Ajgaonkar should talk to tourism stakeholders and they will tell you how these foreign tourists come here on a shoestring budget of some USD 2 a day and spend their time with just one beer in the shack,” she claimed.
Domestic tourists spent money on their Goa vacations, Naik said.
She added that films showcasing Goa were giving free publicity to the state as a tourist destination.
“The tourism industry, which was spending about Rs 20 crore a year just on advertising Goa as a holiday destination across the country, is currently blessed with the branding done through various movies,” she said.
“That has come free of cost and that is the reason why domestic tourists throng Goa,” Naik added.