Panaji– Bemoaning the drop in tourist footfall in Goa, the Small and Medium Hoteliers Association of Goa on Monday said that unchecked online room aggregator services, second homes being converted illegally into guest houses and unchecked wholesale liquor outlets were bleeding the tourism industry.

President of the Association Serafin Cotta said the lopsided regulation and a slack tourism ministry, which is busy selling “refrigerators to eskimos”, was adding to the poor management of the tourism industry in the coastal state, which is popular for beach and nightlife tourism.

“There is a sharp drop in tourist arrivals in Goa. What is worse is, instead of looking to arrest this fall, the Tourism Ministry is selling refrigerators to eskimos by going to travel marts in countries who hardly have an interest in Goa as an outbound market,” Cotta told reporters at a press conference in Panaji.

Foreign trips led by the Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar as well as his predecessors, to numerous international travel marts have been criticised by the Opposition as well as tourism and travel industry stakeholders, who have alleged that the “junkets” have not translated into international tourist arrivals.

Cotta also red-flagged key issues related to the small and medium hotel industry in Goa, which he claimed accounted for nearly 85 per cent of all accommodation in the coastal state.

“Illegal conversion of second homes into boutique hotels and bed and breakfast ventures is bleeding the industry. These outfits are not mapped under any tourism tax structure, causing a loss of revenue to the state tourism ministry,” Cotta said.

“Online room aggregators with their aggressive pricing have also driven the room prices down making it difficult for small and medium hotels to survive. At the same time the low prices has promoted acheap tourism’,” Cotta also said.

Over the last couple of weeks, travel and tourism industry stakeholders have expressed concern over the recent trend of decline in the number of tourists visiting Goa, even during the festive week of Christmas and New Year, when tourism arrivals to the coastal state conventionally peaks. (IANS)