Goa is the casino capital of India, cruise tourism to be developed – Union tourism minister Kishan Reddy

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Union Minister of Tourism G Kishan Reddy on Saturday said that people have already given the title of ‘casino capital’ to Goa. “People have already given the title of capital to Goa. We (government) need not give it. Public has already declared it,” he said while addressing a press conference reported PTI. Reddy was in Goa to announce various tourism promotion initiatives for the coastal state. Union minister Shripad Naik who represents North Goa Lok Sabha constituency was also present with him.

Replying to a query on whether Goa would be tagged as the ‘casino capital of India’ by the government, he said, “Public is here (for casinos). They are either here or in Sikkim (both the places where casinos are allowed). If Goa benefits by declaring it as a casino capital, we can certainly do it,” the minister said.

Talking about Goa, he said, “In the days to come, cruise tourism will become a major sector which will be taken on a mission mode under the Sagarmala project.” He said union tourism and shipping ministries will hold a meeting next week to chalk out an action plan on developing cruise tourism in Goa.

If cruise tourism is developed in Goa the largest amount of benefit will be accrued to Goa. Andaman, Vishakhapatnam, Chennai all these destinations can be connected to Goa. Passenger terminals will be developed in ports and the tourism ministry has given the shipping department money to develop the same,” he said.

The minister said the central government is considering a proposal to develop 75 tourism destinations in the country to international standards and the proposal is awaiting cabinet approval. Reddy said that for the first time after independence, the union government appointed tourist officers in 20 embassies to promote, brand, and market India as a tourism destination. He said these 20 embassies are in those countries from where tourist footfall to India is the most.

On Covid-19, the minister hailing from Telangana said that the pandemic has impacted the tourism sector in Goa, which is witnessing a revival as domestic travelers have started going across the country. “The domestic tourism season is picking up, but there are now apprehensions about the third wave. I appeal to people to abide by all the necessary protocols while visiting various tourism destinations in the country,” he was quoted saying by PTI.

But I urge the people, whether the third wave hits or not, everyone should follow corona protocol and travel to tourist destinations. People should follow their itinerary. State governments have also taken their own decisions with regard to following protocols,” he was quoted as saying by IANS.

Reddy said that the state governments are geared up to implement the protocols against Covid-19 as recommended by the Centre. “We are also keeping a watch on the international developments as far the virus is concerned. We are monitoring the arrival of foreign tourists. I am confident that we will be able to control the third wave and ensure that it does not hit India,” the minister said. He said that 125 crore people have been vaccinated so far, while 25 crores more vaccines are in stock in different states.