Today's Traveller Interviews

Suneel Anchipaka: Goa Boosts Strong Marketing Drive to Attract Global and Domestic Tourists

In an exclusive interview with Today’s Traveller, Suneel Anchipaka, IAS, Director of Tourism, Goa Tourism highlights Goa Tourism’s future strategic goals to enhance tourism.

Suneel Anchipaka, IAS, Director of Tourism, Goa Tourism
Suneel Anchipaka, IAS, Director of Tourism, Goa Tourism

TT Bureau: What new initiatives is the Goa Tourism Department undertaking to attract both domestic and international tourists?

Suneel Anchipaka: The Goa Tourism Department is implementing a range of new initiatives to attract both domestic and international tourists, focusing on sustainable and regenerative tourism practices to enhance the state’s appeal as a year-round destination.

A cornerstone of these efforts is the introduction of Regenerative Tourism, making Goa the first state in India to adopt this approach.

This initiative includes the “Ekadasha Teertha,” which emphasizes spiritual tourism and cultural heritage preservation. Additionally, new homestay and caravan policies have been introduced to provide unique accommodation options that allow visitors to experience local culture more intimately.

Goa also expands its adventure tourism offerings, promotes hinterland exploration, and develops eco-friendly tourism options. These initiatives were prominently showcased at major travel trade shows such as ATM Dubai, GITB Jaipur, GITM, SATTE 2024, and OTM 2024.

The Goa Tourism Pavilion at these events featured interactive exhibits and presentations, engaging with industry professionals to forge new partnerships and collaborations. These initiatives are part of Goa’s broader strategy to diversify its tourism portfolio beyond the traditional sun, sand, and sea narrative, ensuring the state remains a vibrant and sustainable tourist destination.

By promoting responsible tourism practices and highlighting its diverse cultural and natural attractions, Goa aims to attract a wider range of tourists and foster sustainable growth in the tourism sector​.

TT Bureau: Are there any specific programs to ensure that tourism benefits residents economically and culturally?

Suneel Anchipaka: A major focus is on promoting sustainable and regenerative tourism practices that involve local communities in the planning and implementation stages. This participatory approach helps align tourism development with local economic growth and cultural preservation. Programs like “Ekadasha Teertha” emphasize spiritual tourism and cultural heritage preservation.

Additionally, new policies aim to increase economic opportunities for residents by enhancing tourist engagement with local businesses and services. Goa’s emphasis on adventure and eco-tourism promotes hinterland exploration, which supports local entrepreneurs and small businesses in less-visited areas. Local homestays, spice plantations, and activities like white-water rafting are being promoted to provide authentic experiences for tourists.

In these settings, local cuisine is served, traditional dances are performed, and local guides showcase experiences such as bird watching, tree spotting, exploring local flora and fauna, trekking, and learning about spices. The local transport system is also mobilized for tourists’ convenience.

The state has showcased these initiatives at major travel and tourism trade shows, underlining its commitment to sustainable tourism and engaging with industry professionals to forge new partnerships that can further benefit local communities. These initiatives collectively aim to distribute the benefits of tourism widely, fostering economic development and cultural enrichment among Goa’s residents.

TT Bureau: What are some of the key policy directions or strategic goals that you envision for Goa Tourism in the next five to ten years?

Suneel Anchipaka: Goa Tourism has outlined several key policy directions and strategic goals for the next five to ten years, focusing on sustainable development and diversifying its tourism offerings.

Sustainable and Regenerative Tourism

Goa is positioning itself as a leader in sustainable tourism practices. This includes the implementation of regenerative tourism initiatives to preserve natural resources and promote eco-friendly travel options. The “Ekadasha Teertha Yatra,” focusing on spiritual tourism, is one such initiative aimed at both preserving and promoting the state’s cultural heritage.

Diversification of Tourism Products

The state aims to move beyond its traditional image of sun, sand, and sea by promoting adventure tourism, hinterland tourism, and wellness tourism. This includes developing new circuits and experiences that highlight Goa’s rich cultural and natural diversity.

Infrastructure Development

Goa plans to improve its tourism infrastructure, including better connectivity and enhanced facilities at tourist sites. This includes the development of new airports and the improvement of road and rail networks to ensure seamless travel for tourists.

Promotion of Homestays and Local Businesses

Policies are being put in place to encourage the growth of homestays and support local entrepreneurs. This not only provides tourists with unique cultural experiences but also ensures that tourism benefits local communities economically.

Marketing and Branding

Goa is intensifying its marketing efforts to attract both domestic and international tourists. Participation in major travel trade shows and international events is a key strategy to showcase Goa’s diverse offerings and build new partnerships.

Skill Development and Capacity Building

There is a focus on training and capacity building for stakeholders in the tourism sector. This includes upskilling local communities and hospitality professionals to enhance the overall quality of tourism services in the state.

These strategic goals are part of Goa’s broader vision to become a year-round destination that offers diverse, high-quality tourism experiences while ensuring the sustainable development of its natural and cultural assets​.

TT Bureau: How is the Goa Tourism Department leveraging technology and innovation to enhance the tourist experience, and what future technological advancements can we expect in Goa’s tourism sector?

Suneel Anchipaka: The Goa Tourism Department is leveraging technology and innovation to significantly enhance the tourist experience. Notable initiatives include the development of the “Goa Taxi App,” designed to improve transportation services by providing tourists with a reliable and efficient means of booking taxis. Another major initiative is the Global Opportunities Aggregator (G.O.A.), which aims to transform Goa into a hub for mobile IoT and innovation.

This initiative focuses on enhancing digital infrastructure, promoting local talent, and fostering collaboration through remote working platforms and co-working spaces, particularly in scenic and heritage locations. Future technological advancements in Goa’s tourism sector are anticipated to feature more interactive and immersive digital experiences. Innovations such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will likely be utilized to offer virtual tours and enrich the storytelling of Goa’s rich cultural and natural heritage.

Additionally, there is a strong emphasis on sustainable and eco-friendly tourism practices, supported by smart technologies that efficiently manage resources and minimize the environmental impact of tourism activities. These initiatives underscore Goa’s commitment to becoming a leading destination for both technology-driven and sustainable tourism, ensuring that visitors enjoy a modern and enriching travel experience​.

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