Panaji, Dec 15 (IANS) The Goa government's move to set up a a golf course on the picturesque Arambol plateau overlooking the Arabian Sea has drawn stiff opposition from various civil society groups.
The proposed golf course at Arambol, about 35 km from Panaji, which has been included in the new draft of the controversial Regional Plan 2021, is intended to attract high spending tourists and carving out a new tourism segment in Goa.
The Goa Bachao Abhiyaan (GBA), which in the recent past had brought together several civil society groups seeking planned development of the state, has asserted they would oppose the move by the government to develop a golf course in an ecologically sensitive area.
'The government is trying to slip the project in through the back door,' said Sabina Martins, the convener of GBA. The proposed golf course also forced the villagers from Arambol to undertake protests against the move.
The tourism industry wants the state government to set up a golf course in order to attract the high end tourist segment, which has been deserting Goa for states with better developed tourist facilities like Kerala and Maharashtra.
According to Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) president Ralph de Souza, a full-fledged golf course was a necessary investment for the state in order to keep Goa on the high spending tourist's map.
'A golf course and a cruise liner are a must for the development of tourism in the state,' he maintained.
The Confederation of Indian Industries, in a recent report titled 'Tourism sector in Goa: Future growth and challenges', has strongly advocated setting up two full-fledged golf courses, one each in South and North Goa.
'Golf is a sport that attracts many of the higher end (and high spending) tourists and with them, a higher level of tourism. Goa has missed out on this. A golf course should be set up on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis by the tourism promotion board,' the report said.
Goa presently has two mini golf courses run by two five star resorts -- the Taj and Ramada and an 18-hole golf course owned by the seven star Intercontinental resort. Earlier moves by the government to construct a golf course nearly eight years ago had triggered public outcry, which had ended up derailing the project.
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