By Priti Prakash | PUBLISHED: 15, Sep 2022, 16:21 pm IST | UPDATED: 15, Sep 2022, 17:31 pm IST
New Delhi: Goa is not called a cultural paradise for nothing. Its a Dream Wonderland and called India’s Venice. A traveller is truely spoilt for choice in what Goa offers. On its path to development after the pandemic Goa is all set to be the end all destination for tourists all across the world. Relaunching itself with the tagline 'Discover Goa. Find yourself', Goa Tourism Department is promising a rather action packed and reinvented Goa. It is the most awarded state for best tourism year on year.
As the tourism season is set to begin next month in Goa full on, the state has been preparing to offer its best to the tourist. In a free wheeling interaction with Managing Director Goa Tourism, Nikhil U Desai, the Director, announced a slew of activities that will make a tourist bet for Goa than any other place. Here are some reasons why you should put Goa in your bucket list this season:
1. To start with, a new airport named MOPA, other than Dabolin, will be up and functional by October 2022 assuring connectivity to 31 domestic destinations & 14 international destinations & is expected to cater to approx. 80,000 foreign tourists arrival. This is likely to bring down ticket prices considerably.
2. Goa is being developed as a year round tourism destination with sustainable and value based tourist attractions. Goa Tourism has identified 7 areas of focus--Heritage, Culture, Adventure, Leisure and Entertainment, Goan coastal & Backwaters, MICE Tourism, Eco & Nature based tourism, Wellness & Medical tourism.
Under Heritage tourism one can see monuments like Aguada jail museum, Bon Jesus Baslica Heritage Zone, Mangesh Temple, Relic of Tambdi Surla of 12th century located in the remote forest, Mahadev Temple of Goa, Safa Masjid. A must see for tourists.
Have a food blast in Goa. Known for its culinary heritage, travellers will get a chance to savour cuisines ranging from exotic Goan food to the most authentic international dishes. Goa is rightly called India’s food capital.
The Grape Escapade, a 3-4 days Goa's wine festival in Panjim, sets to be the best with wines, haute cuisine and is an entertainment extravaganza. Held in January/February, top wine companies from all over the country show their products here and gets national & international tourists. There are musical programmes, cultural perfomances and an e-entry for everyone. Similar to this is the 'Spirit of Goa’ festival where only local spirits like Goa Feni, Coconut Feni & Goa based alchoholic drinks which come with cocktails are displayed. This promotes the cottage industry of cashew and coconut in Goa.
For Adrenalin Junkies, Adventure tourism offers Hot Air Ballooning, Bunjee jumping, Battery operated Bicycle Tours, Curated Experiential tours.
With the Tagline ‘Rise Above the ordinary’, Goa becomes too exciting with Nautical & Heritage Cruises offering variety of river cruise. There is scuba Diving & Snorkelling activities, White water rafting specially during monsoon season in the western ghats. Activities like Sea Plane & Skydiving are being worked out. Motorised Paragliding handled by expert adventure activity staff is another very exciting thing awaited. The western ghats boost of spectacular hiking & trekking spots. Goa Tourism has introduced monsoon trekking on Sunday’s every week.
Tribal Tourism is a unique feature that Goa is promoting. The state has 9-10% of tribal population like the Gowdas, the Kunbis, the Velips and the Dhangars spread in certain south talukas of Goa. The department is working on organizing tribal festivals, creating tribal village where tourists can see glimpses of their lifestyle, customs, traditions, ceremonies, religious beliefs and superstitions, that have been freezed over the centuries. As part of promoting sustainable tourism tribals will be trained as guides for villages. Eco tours are being undertaken to promote forest tourism.
3. Ranked 6th best in the world Goa is hands down India's leading leisure, entertainment & nightlife capital standing neck to neck with Ebiza or Essel world as per National Geographic channel. A plethora of festivals and events justifies its year round destination concept. Festivals like Ironman 70.3, Sunburn festival, Interhash, Spirit of Goa festival, Heritage festival cannot be missed. Local festival like Festival of Flags are the highlights. Unique festivals like Festival of Ideas, Bird festival, Aqua festival will be displayed in the event calender on Goa Tourism website.
The Goa carnival which is held in February every year will be celebrated bigger next year and promsies to be a major puller. Other festivals are major crowd pullers like Film festival, Carnivals, Shigmotsav, Bonderam, Grape Escapade, New Year, Ghumot festival, Food & Music festival, Tripurari Poornima, Patolleachem festival, Konkan Fruit festival, Poderachem fest.
Goa government is taking pride in showcasing their culture with myriads of events for tourists. some of them that are also listed on the Goa Tourism website are Mondo fest, Surashree sangeet samaroh, Tribal fest, Classical dance fest, DD Kosambi fest, & Kirtan Mahotasv, Veerbhadra, Feast of St Francis Xavier, Three Kings feast, Narkasura Parade, ChikalKalo fest & Touxeachem Feast give a glimpse of Goa's rich culture.
This time Goa is hosting FIFA U 17 Women’s World Cup from Oct 11-29, 2022. IFFI too will be held on Nov 20, 2022.
4. Goa is a famous wedding destination too. It offers lavish wedding spots, exquisite resorts & ceremonies on the beach for which Goa govt has facilitated issuance of permissions.
5. Goan waters include, backwaters, riverlets, springs. Colva is selected to be developed as iconic destination.
6. For MICE segment Goa is coming up with a Convention Centre at Rua de Ourem creek to be completed by May 2023 having an open air theatre & gazebo’s to promote local events.
7.Focusing on Eco & Nature based tourism, Goa Tourism has highlighted the Selaulim Dam & Wildlife Sanctuary at Bondla as a must visit, showing 400 species of birds. Dr Salim Ali bird sanctuary is a birdswatcher paradise. Goa has dense Cotigao Wildlife sanctuary in south Goa. There are turtle nesting sites of Olive Ridley at Morjim, Galgibag & Agonda beaches promoted and conserved by forest department.
Goa is also famous for its tropical spice plantations. Spices & orchards are a must visit in goa.
8. Goa Tourism is promoting village tourism which includes natural & cultural attractions like Feni trails.
9. State of the art wellness centres are coming up near Selaulim & Anjunem which are going to be high end wellness destination along with wellness cottages with meditation camp on the Goa Karnataka border. Resort & wellness centres are being planned at Farmagudi, Ponda Taluka which innovates holistic packages for wellness & alternate medicine treatments, therapeutic & allied services, homeopathy & naturopathy, ayurvedic massage.
What about transport facilities for tourists in Goa. The Department advices downloading the App 'Goa Miles' which will take care of needs like travelling from one corner of Goa to another. It also helps one check the best rates of cabs so that nobody is taken for a ride. Presently there are 4000-5000 rent a cabs for tourists. To promote Eco friendly bus infrastructute Electric buses are in the pipeline to improve last mile connectivity. Goa Tourism is starting Hop on Hop off buses along with the amphibius tours.
The coastal state is hugely promoting cruise tourism as well. Desai informed that one can take Cordelia cruise from Mumbai to Goa & Kerala. On casino's he said Goa has 2 types of Casino's, a floating one & a shore based casino for which licenses are given to eligible people.
Goa International Travel Mart is likely to be in January or February 2023, Desai informed.
Desai says want to make Goa a year round destination as it is THE most beautiful & the best place to visit specially during monsoons. 'There is no such thing as off season in Goa'.