The tourism agency in Goa appears to support the idea of more land-based casinos. A newly drafted tourism policy prepared by the government looks to create an international gaming cluster that would see existing offshore casinos relocated, as well as additional changes that are designed to boost entertainment activity and draw more tourism to the area.
According to the Business Standard, the proposed legislation would see the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), a state-run organization that oversees tourism, be redeveloped through the “private sector” and would disengage the corporation from a number of services. The bill is currently open for input and is expected to be addressed by lawmakers on January 16 in a meeting that will be led by Goa’s Tourism Minister, Manohar Ajgaonkar.
The bill would also see a new Goa Tourism Board, which would be directed by the tourism minister. It would take over certain responsibilities currently controlled by the GTDC, as well as some of those controlled by the State Level Marketing and Promotion Committee (SLMPC).
The draft was designed by a private consultant who suggests that there is a need to redevelop the industry through the “vibrant private sector.” The change in policy adds, “Assets such as hotels, buildings, land and immovable assets and so on shall be redeveloped through private sector participation under long-term lease or licencing arrangements, for development or operation and management.”
Among some of the changes would be the creation of marinas and golf courses. In addition, although not explicitly mentioned, there is the possibility – albeit weak – that riverboat casinos could move on-land. In typical fashion, all of the suggestions have met resistance in the past and will find challenges to their future introduction. Fishermen have been opposed to the marinas and environmentalists have been opposed to the golf courses. On-land casinos are not the favorite of a number of lawmakers and others who fear that making gambling more easily accessible will only increase addiction.
If the draft is approved, the GTDC won’t step away completely. It will act as a facilitator and investment advisor for the tourism sector as it slowly gives up more responsibilities. Some properties will also be relinquished and transferred to private parties.