Goan Tourism minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has dismissed suggestions that the state’s six offshore casinos could be moved inland during discussions regarding a new draft tourism policy.
The minister offered a simple “no, sir” to the question of new casinos in the area, raised by Nationalist Congress Party minister Churchill Alemao, during a hearing of the state legislative assembly.
“The tourism master plan was prepared after various consultative sessions with several concerned stakeholders, obtaining views and comments from the elected representatives, local authorities as well as the general public,” said Ajgaonkar.
The draft bill had reportedly included proposals to relocate Goa’s controversial floating casinos after efforts in August by Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to guarantee a move onshore before 2022.
The suggestion also advised the appointment of a gaming commissioner to oversee Goa’s ten existing onshore casinos, the issuance of new licenses valid for between ten and fifteen years and a ban on local citizens gambling.
However, the proposal was not included as part of the tourism strategy, despite Ajgaonkar stating “all stakeholders involved in the tourism industry would be consulted, before finalising the master plan, which incidentally has been criticised by stakeholders as well as Opposition members.”
The wider tourism expansion comes after local industry representatives criticised the government for neglecting development that would encourage an increase in visitor numbers.
The latest consideration by the legislative assembly includes the founding of a Goa Tourism Board to oversee the sector, as well as the development of golf resorts and new marina facilities in the area.