In a largely chaotic tourism industry without specific regulations regarding various aspects of the business, Tourism Department has decided to streamline operations, following increasing complaints regarding harassment of tourists by unauthorised travel agencies and directions to this effect by the Central tourism ministry.
The department warned of stern action against unregistered agency operating in Goa.
Tourism department sources say that this problem of mushrooming dubious travel agencies is at its peak during season, where tourists are not only harassed but cheated in a big way.
An official in the department said, “There could be around 150 such unregistered travel agencies operating during the peak season.”
Goa has around 450 travel agencies registered under the tourist trade act.
He said that the dubious agencies tell their clientele that they are registered with the governments of India and Goa.
“When cheated or harassed the tourists complain to the Government of India,” said this official.
The central ministry of tourism has taken up this issue with Goa. In a media communiqué issued Saturday, the Department of tourism says that it has noticed that the tourists are harassed by agents claiming to be recognized by the Central or state government.
“We have taken serious note of this problem and directed all travel agents operating within the state of Goa to prominently display the certificate of registration issued by the Department of Tourism within their office premises,” says the order.
The travel agencies are directed to display their certificate of registration issued by State government and ministry of tourism, Government of India, at their premises, failing which action as deemed fit will be initiated against them at their own risk and cost or as may be prescribed under the Goa registration of Tourist Trade Act under Section 26 of the Act.
Nilesh Shah of PBA holidays who runs a travel agency in the capital city said, “If Goa is to be a safe tourist destination it is essential to have these checks and systems put in place.”
There are complaints from tourists of being cheated by touts or unregistered travel agencies, Shah said adding that in such an event it is a good thing that the tourism ministry has decided to crack the whip and clamp down on fake businesses that mushroom in the State.
Sylvester Dias who runs a travel agency in Panjim said, “The fake operators bring a bad name to Goa and we genuine operators finally have to face the flak for all the nonsense. All these issues need to be dealt from the beginning rather than wait for it to reach a climax.” [H]