Monday, November 29, 1999

Goa gets new vehicles to patrol beaches

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Panaji, May 15 (IANS) To curb the spate of crimes against foreign tourists in Goa, a tourism trade body Saturday donated 15 jeeps and seven motorcycles to the state government to enable the patrolling of beaches.The fleet was handed over by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) India initiative chairperson Arjun Sharma to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat at a function here.'This is the first time in the history of tourism in the country that such a public-private initiative has been undertaken,' Sharma said, adding that the beach patrol which will function under the tourism ministry would safeguard the interest of the nearly two million tourists - both international and domestic - who visit the beach tourism destination.Kamat warned the Goa tourism department against misusing a brand new fleet of beach patrol jeeps and motorcycles.Minutes after handing over the jeeps to the tourism department, Kamat sternly warned tourism department officials against using the beach patrol jeeps 'to watch movies'.'Not a single vehicle should be misused. I have seen many things happening. Earlier, donated ambulances were used (by the staff) to go and watch movies,' Kamat told the select audience which included state Tourism Secretary M. Modassir and Tourism Director Nikhil Dessai.Speaking on the occasion Chief Secretary Sanjiv Srivastava said that the state machinery valued the importance of tourism as a revenue earner and was taking steps to ensure that safety of tourists was paramount.'Goa is a safe place. Whatever happened in the past few months (referring to the spate of crimes against foreigners), we have instituted special courts to ensure that the culprits are caught and brought to book,' he said.Goa, one of the leading tourism destinations in India, receives more than two million tourists annually.The WTTC is a world wide forum of business leaders in the travel and tourism industry and its India initiative serves as an umbrella body comprising of hotel, travel and airline industry leaders in India.

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