Goa launches campaign to attract domestic youth

Highlight positive things about Goa, brand ambassador tells media

As it is getting ready for a new tourist season, Goa Tourism has changed the target group by launching a multi-pronged campaign to attract the affluent Indian youth to the coastal State.

Not content with restricting itself as a mere family destination, Goa Tourism has chosen up-coming cine star Prachi Desai as an icon of Brand Goa to position the State as a safe year-round destination to woo the young.

“I think the positive things about Goa need to be highlighted in the media. Give information, but do not scare people; also, tell people to take responsibility,” Ms. Desai said on Wednesday when asked how she intends to change the image of Goa which got a setback last year.

As the rigours of worldwide economic recession continue to adversely affect the international arrivals, including charter flights, the State is poised to invest Rs. 1.75 crore over the next two months on a domestic all-out campaign to woo the young, domestic tourist in a big way.

“This year, we plan to concentrate on the youth. That does not mean that we do not want families. We need to change our strategy from time to time. Let us appreciate the fact that nearly 50 per cent of country's population today is youth,” said Tourism Secretary M. Modassir explaining about the new focus.

Launching the new multi-pronged multi-media campaign at a city hotel, new Tourism Minister Nilkant Halarnkar clearly seemed to be out to bury the past where his predecessor made headlines barely six months ago calling “Goa the rape capital”.

“Goa is very much safe,” he insisted and spoke of the new campaign which is primarily directed at the domestic youth market.

It will have TV, press, online, retail activation and celebrity representation.

The State witnessed a higher tourist arrival during 2009-10. There was 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent increase in foreign tourist arrivals (3.56 lakh) while the domestic arrivals saw a 12.4 per cent growth (21.7 lakh), said Tourism Director Swapnil Naik.

However, he admitted that the situation has not gone back to higher arrivals of 2007-08. Goa, he said, largely, as a fallout of worldwide economic recession, witnessed a drastic drop in arrivals in 2008-09.

The department is anxious to undo the damage the State's tourism suffered last year owing to sustained adverse publicity in domestic as well as the international media on account of some unsavoury incidents such as a foreigner's rape, murder, molestation and the menace of narcotics on the coastal belt.

Understandably, the Tourism Department has joined hands with the private hospitality sector to put in place several beach safety measures. Soon Goan beaches will have a tourist security force comprising retired army personnel keeping vigil on the beaches, Mr. Naik said.

Simultaneously, the department has put in place better systems to project a better image and respond up-front to adverse publicity.

Mr. Naik was quick to say that there was no basis to say that the tourists perceive Goa as unsafe, as 45 per cent of Goa's customers are repeat customers.

While not denying that there were unsavoury instances, he said one has to also accept that all the culprits involved in the cases were caught and the Government has put in place mechanism such as fast track courts to deal with cases involving tourists.

“The Government was not relying on beaches alone but was moving to develop more projects in the vast hinterland and other projects, including water sports and eco-tourism, and adventure tourism were in the offing,” Mr. Halarnkar said.

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