We’ve always maintained that Goa has many sides to it. At first, Goa spelled only beaches for us, but over time we’ve discovered the churches, the culture, the food, the waterfalls, the national parks, and so many adventure activities in and around this beautiful destination. We keep coming to Goa for this very reason, there’s enough to keep calling us back. A great event that showcases all of the above is the Goa International Travel Mart (GITM) where the best of what Goa has to offer assembles in one place. However given that it’s a B2B event, we take on the responsibility of sharing what we’ve learned from the event.
The Goa International Travel Mart
GITM like all similar events is invaluable to the destination stakeholders as it offers a platform for the buyers, both Domestic & International, to connect with the local travel trade (hospitality, DMC’s, activities, etc.) The 2019 event was held from 23rd October to 25th October at Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium, Goa.
The Goa International Travel Mart (GITM 2019) was inaugurated at the beautiful Park Regis Hotel in Arpora, Goa with Dr. Pramod Sawant Hon’ble Chief Minister of Goa, and Shri Manohar Ajgaonkar Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Tourism, Goa, Shri J. Ashok Kumar Secretary Tourism, and Shri Nikhil Desai MD GTDC in attendance. The event started with the CM’s address, the launch of a new film on Goa, a presentation highlighting present and future development plans for Goa & cultural performances showcasing the amalgamation of the various cultural influences in this tiny state. The night ended with a networking cocktail dinner for media delegates & buyers from around the world.
The main event venue for GITM was Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Indoor Stadium which had over 60 exhibitors showcasing their offerings to a group of over 200 Domestic & International buyers. The local travel trade included luxury hotels, casinos, cruise companies, local DMC’s, activity organizations among others.
Among the exhibitors we found a few to be interesting additions to the destination experience. “Jumpin Heights” a Bungee jumping destination in North Goa, “B Live”, which offers experiential tours on their eco-friendly bikes as also boutique hotels like “Fort Tiracol” which is a fort recently converted into a heritage hotel.
The media presentation and the Q&A session afterward answered some pertinent questions we’ve had as well. It can be summarized under the following broad headings – Future Roadmap, Safety, and Sustainability.
Although it’s been in the works for a while, the government is looking to take the tourists beyond the beaches. There are various activities be it the vibrant cultural heritage or adventure activities which allows the beaches some breathing space as well. We were informed that Goa has one of the highest density of performing art centers in the world per sq mile. There is an area earmarked for recreating a mini-village showcasing the cultural diversity of the state as well as regular light and sound show for tourists to enjoy. There are various festivals in the state which we didn’t know about including the fact that it’s one of the destinations hosting the Carnaval much like the one in Rio & Mardi Gras. There is also a new airport opening up in Mopa which should be operational in a couple of years, effectively doubling the flight carrying capacity of the state.
You might be interested in reading about our previous experience of Goa in the Monsoons
Safety was another concern raised to which we were informed that there is a dedicated helpline for tourists. Additionally, there is a large contingent of police personnel and lifeguards patrolling both the beaches and roads at night. Also, both the police and the locals have been sensitized to the requirements of the tourists and requested to be helpful to guests in distress. We were told that barring isolated incidents, the destination is one of the safest in the world especially so if we maintain the basic safety checks expected of every traveler anywhere in the world, and we agree.
Over-tourism is a much-discussed issue across the globe currently, with multiple destinations being shut down to preserve its natural beauty or under pressure from the locals who’ve campaigned against it. We were informed that the initiative to pull the tourists beyond the beaches would help lessen the load on a particular site and help spread it out – a basic but effective solution to the issue. We were also told that GTDC has banned the use of single-use plastic like bottles, cups, and straws following the announcement by the PM on the same – however, we weren’t convinced on the enforcement of the same given that we saw plenty of them around during our stay. However, we are happy that the first step which is usually the hardest, has been taken and hoping that it’s enforced more strictly like in some other states in the country which has almost become plastic-free due to their initiatives.
We were put up at the fabulous Le Meridien hotel in Calangute by the tourism board. Despite the unruly weather we managed to be part of a few media FAM’s including a dinner at the very popular Deltin Royale, lunch at the Bambolim Beach Resort & a visit to a Se Cathedral & the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa. As we keep telling people, there’s a lot more to Goa and the Goa International Travel Mart was a perfect showcase of the same.