Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant in his budget speech on Wednesday tried to reposition the tourism sector away from the state’s popular beaches to the hinterland, especially in the lower reaches of the forested Western Ghats and rural areas of Goa, in order to ensure percolation of the spoils of tourism in the interior regions of the coastal state.
The state budget for the year 2022-23 which was tabled in the state assembly also proposes an eco-tourism policy for the state to engage the participation of the local population and generate employment.
“One of the priority and focus areas of my government is to make efforts to boost eco-tourism in the hinterland, especially in and around incredibly rich forests and wildlife areas of the state,” the Chief Minister said in his budget speech.
“For this purpose, we will come up with an ‘Eco-tourism Policy’ which will lay emphasis on the active participation of local people to provide them gainful employment opportunities. Adequate publicity of eco-tourism sites and facilities will also be made through various platforms, including social media,” Sawant also said.
The budget speech also proposed to develop hinterlands in the Western ghats under the aegis of eco-tourism.
“I propose to develop Goan Hinterlands through the development of eco-tourism & nature education park for the Western Ghats at Selaulim and trekking corridors and camping areas at Dudhsagar along with supporting infrastructure,” Sawant said.
Sawant also said that the Goa government would develop model villages to tap their potential as far as tourism is concerned.
“Under the ‘Development of Model Villages’ scheme, we will assist various villages based on their potential such as demographics, natural attractions, and tourism development. For this purpose, a provision of Rs 4 crore has been made,” Sawant said.
The budget proposes to allocate Rs 247.16 crore for the tourism sector, which has been severely impacted by the pandemic, which led to only 26 lakh tourists visiting the state in 2020.
Sawant also announced the allocation of Rs 51.74 crore under the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive of the Union Ministry of Tourism for the development of infrastructure and amenities at Basilica of Bom Jesus along with various other churches in Old Goa.