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Thursday, May 30, 2024

How Goa and Kashmir are coming closer

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By: Vivek Shukla

Imagine Kashmir is coming close to Goa. Surely, both are among the most sought after tourist destinations of not only India, but of the world. While the fun loving Goans have been visiting Kashmir for holidaying since long, the same was not true for the Kashmiris till as recently as couple of years ago.

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However, things are fast changing and people of Kashmir valley are also visiting Goa for their leisure trips in a big way. To gauge the changed thinking of people of Kashmir, you have to be on any Delhi- Goa flight. It is like seeing is believing experience. You would find many, many Kashmiris, including ladies, kids and senior citizens, are taking Goa bound flights from the Indira Gandhi International airport. That also reinforces the point that the once troubled Kashmir is changing fast and peace returns there. During his recent trip to Srinagar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that Kashmir has been transformed economically since it was stripped of its semi-autonomous status. He was accorded a very warm welcome by the people of Kashmir. That was unthinkable till couple of years ago. “I am working hard to win your hearts,” he told a rally in Srinagar. Thanks to peace and stability in Kashmir valley, Kashmiris have now started going to even Goa during their holidays.

As there is no direct Goa flight from Srinagar, Kashmiris first come to Delhi and then move to Goa. Of course, Kashmiris living in other parts of the country also visit Goa frequently.

Well, Kashmiris leave for Goa in hoards when their own state experience extremely cold conditions. You can say from November to January, Kashmiris find Goa as a place to visit and stay. Like other tourists, the carefree mood of Goa and the inclusive Goan society greatly fascinates Kashmiri tourists. They can be spotted at famous beaches of Goa like Calangute, Baga, Anjuna and Candolim.

If you talk to Kashmiri tourists in Goa, they would surely tell you two things: A. They were sick and tired of long unrest in valley. As things are getting better and better in their own state and it is experiencing growth, development and return of peace, they find Goa as a great place to unwind. B. Kashmiris visiting Goa also say that thanks to the efforts of Goan government lead by the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, the interests of tourists are served. Tourists visiting here feel safe and secure in Goa. This is a huge compliment to the government of Goa.

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Kashmiris apart, now the government of Goa is trying to attract ‘quality tourists’ i.e. those who can spend more and more. Pramod Sawant, the energatic Chief Minister of Goa, has recently said that his government is taking several steps to attract more and more quality tourists to Goa. Getting quality tourists will benefit all stakeholders from shack owners to taxi operators,  adding, “If we want quality tourists then we have to provide quality services.”

While tourists pour in Goa across the year, the tourists flock in Goa from the first week of October before reaching its peak during the Christmas-New Year period and continue until the end of May. Goa receives around eight million tourists every year around one-tenth of whom are foreigners.

It goes without saying that the year 2024 stands as a significant juncture for Goa, as many events of the G20 summit were held here marked a significant moment. It even hosted a tourism ministerial event that underscored Goa’s emergence as a vital player on the world stage. The events mark a convergence of international leaders and policymakers engaging in discussions about global economic matters. This event not only highlighted the region’s natural beauty but also its role in shaping global tourism trends. The G20’s influence during India’s presidency had sparked noteworthy repercussions on Goa’s tourism sector.

In fact, post the G20 summit, numerous airlines from previously unconnected locales are considering direct flights to the newly developed MOPA international airport. It is a superb airport. It can match any world class airport of the world in terms of facilities and infrastructure.

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Once noted Cricket Writer and commentator late Tony Cozier has told me that the breathtaking beaches and the life of Goa can attract anyone. Well, the reason why Goa gets so crowded with foreigners is that unlike warm, sunny, skylit Goa, their countries are very cold and snowy all the time. They love coming to Goa and warming their body. It is also an advantage for their extreme milky skin as they lay on the beach getting tanned and acquiring the right skin tone as per their desire. From earthen dressing to the golden beaches, everything makes these tourists happy. All they want is some yummy coconut water, soft music and the aroma of delicious seafood. Most often these people only roam near beaches, shop on the streets and have food on shacks. It is very rare to notice them going to expensive places or fast food joints. They like enjoying the pleasure of Goa’s admirable beauty.

Like foreigners, our own Kashmiris like the bright sunshine here. When their own Kashmir reels under cold conditions in winter, Goa gives them much needed relief. Hence, they now visit Goa again and again.

Meanwhile, another reason of the foreign tourists visiting Goa is because it is very reasonable here compared to other India states, thus thousands of tourists having the good time of their life in Goa. Foreigners relate Goa to the exotic place of Hawaii, although, the currency there is high compared to India.

You would find very big presence of Russian tourists in Goa every year. It is said that the Russian lifestyle and culture is very close to that of Goa, because of the earlier Portuguese rule. Also during summer season in Goa, Russia has freezing winter which brings many Russians to relax in Goa. Nowadays, there are a lot of signboards, restaurants and store names written in the Russian language. This makes it easier for them to move around and more visitors are comfortable stepping in Goa. Surely, if Goa is attracting tourists from Kashmir to Russia and other parts of the world, due credit must be given to the Goan  government for developing the overall infrastructure of the state. (The author is a columnist & has penned down Gandhis Delhi)


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