“More we increase tourism in states affected by naxalism, the better it will be for them,” was Union Tourism Minister Kumari Selja’s stance on the context of tourism in naxal-affected states in the country at the regional conference of tourism ministers of western states/union territories held in Sinquerim, Goa, that concluded Saturday afternoon.
Addressing the media, she explained that naxalism was today an issue in many states, especially certain regions in states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
“If tourism is promoted in these areas, it will generate employment and people will turn to tourism for work opportunities rather than to naxalism,” she said, adding that the central government was also in favour of promoting tourism in naxal-affected areas.
Tourism ministers from naxal-affected areas of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra were part of this conference.
In an inaugural speech earlier, Selja stressed on innovative rural tourism projects, aimed at strengthening skilled rural artisan communities in association with the United Nations Development Programme.
Selja stressed on the need to promote alternative – adventure and cruise-based – tourism in the areas of Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka where the ports of all three states would be conducive for these activities.
She also took on the issue of casinos in Goa, saying that in the classification of hotels, “the government doesn’t recognise casinos.”
On being asked the central government’s take on Goa’s casino-oriented tourism, she shot back saying, “We don’t want to do things that are not in good taste and not keeping in with our heritage and culture. We want safe and secure tourism; we have so much to offer.”
Goa has seven off shore casinos and over a dozen land based casinos in five star hotels.