Goa Tourism’s recent road show threw the spotlight on lesser known aspects of the State

So you love partying, but you’re also a history buff, an avid reader and a sports enthusiast. And yet, when people talk about you, they always refer to you as a party animal. That could seem a little undermining right? Well, Goa too has the same problem — people don’t seem to look beyond its nightlife. The recent road show by Goa Tourism aimed at promoting Goa not just as a party destination but as a place that has it all — Nature, history, heritage, adventure sports, birdwatcher’s paradise with around 423 species of local and migratory birds, natural springs, shopping…

Titled Goa Chillout, the event highlighted the state’s vibrant lifestyle through dance (jive and local dance form kotti fugdi), Goan folk songs such as the popular ‘Ya Ya Mayaya’, ‘Maria Pitache’, a few English numbers, and an audio-visual presentation. “We get tourists all round the year. There is surplus demand during the high season. Earlier there used to be a lull during the monsoons. For the last couple of years we have been promoting monsoon tourism. It’s the most beautiful time in Goa. There are activities that people can try out during the monsoons including white-water rafting and moonlight kayaking…” says Gavin Dias, deputy general manager, Goa Tourism Development.

He feels that many of Goa’s unknown charms are ignored by tourists. “Most travellers are told only about the beaches, Santa Monica ferry and North and South Goa. Spots such as Selaulim Dam, Agonda beach and many other such places are not mentioned. Through this event we want to make people aware of these destinations,” he adds. In recent times spice trail too has become a well-known activity where tourists spend around seven hours going around a plantation and trying out locally prepared meals.

For tourists who enjoy a carnival atmosphere, fairly recent festivals such as the Sao Joao Festival (it celebrates John the Baptist and people wear crowns and jump into rivers), Bondera festival which is held only on the island of Divar and is the celebration of the first harvest. The Grape Escapade (wine and lifestyle event); Heritage festival that aims to revive dances and traditions and the International Film Festival. With Goa almost having it all, what’s the one thing it lacks? “It lacks positive publicity…a couple of stray incidents sometimes give Goa a bad name” says Dias.

But perhaps Goa can take solace in the fact that despite the odds, tourists still throng this destination. According to Dias, last year Goa received about “five lakh international tourists and 23 lakh domestic tourists.” And then there are movies too that portray the charms of this destination. While Chennai Express focused quite a bit on the Doodhsagar Falls, Dil Chahta Hai made the Chapora Fort a must-click for all visitors.