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Goa campaigns for family, up-marklet tourists

Goa , India 's smallest state, is campaigning to improve its image and attract family and upmarket tourists.

Because of "dubious activities" such as child abuse, tourism authorities are moving to sustain its position as a family destination, eTurboNews reported.

They are focussing on social responsibility and implementing a self-regulatory code for its reputation, the travel news service said.

"We hoteliers have to put up strict norms for outside visitors to guest rooms," said Ralph de Souza, president-elect of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG).

"All hotels would steer clear of any shady activities or operations by anybody and seek police intervention to nip in the bud any activities where they suspect things like child abuse," he added.

His second concern was that the hospitality sector in the state had "become a soft-target for various lobbies.”

For example, the TTAG is involved in a court battle between hotels/travel agencies and tourist taxi operators who insist that only their vehicles should be used to ferry tourists around, eTurboNews said.

The Goa tourism department has invited bids from various agencies to professionally market the state to global visitors.

"We want to market Goa as a year-round destination for tourists," a spokesman said.

The equivalent of $A6 million bas been budgeted for the project.

And, in a bid to attract upmarket tourists, the department is going ahead with a plan to set up a golf course on Goa's Betul-Naqueri-Quittol plateau.

So what can Goa offer visitors?

Variously known as " Pearl of the Orient" and a "Tourist Paradise," it is noted for its scenic beauty and the architectural splendours of its temples, churches and old houses.

(In its colonial days, a large part of its overseas income was the money sent home by thousands of Goanese who serve as crew members on P&O and other liners).

Goa's official website says the state has "a soul which goes deep into unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest natural scenery that India has to offer."

Hindu legends credit Lord Parshuram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, with the creation of Goa, long before its colonisation by Portugal.

India annexed the enclave in 1961 and it became India's 25th state on May 30, 1987.

Goa has been a meeting point of races, religions and cultures of East and West over the centuries. It has a multi-hued and distinctive lifestyle different from the rest of India.


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