Goa aims to be a health-and-wellness tourism destination

Panaji, Aug 19 (IANS) Goa needs more high-end hotel rooms to hope for big-ticket tourists, says a draft investment policy prepared by a government-appointed task force that says the state can position itself as a health and wellness tourism destnation.

The Goa Investment Policy 2013 that has just been put into the public domain for suggestions has also outlined the importance of medical tourism in taking forward Goa's story.

"The government targets granting permissions to starred hotels, across categories, to a cumulative additional capacity of around 8,000 beds in the next five years," says the policy, authored by a task force headed by Atul Pai Kane, the Goa chairman of the Confederation of Indian industry (CII).

The report also says that attracting high-end visitors will also mean creation of infrastructure and facilities which in turn will provide gainful employment for the state's youth. The current disparity in the proportion of low-end to high-end hotels will be made up by encouraging more boutique and luxury hotels in the state, the draft policy says.

The increased focus on high-end tourists also comes with the inevitable requirement of creating high-value tourism products, which should include oceanariums, theme parks, shopping malls, entertainment centres, high-end water sports and adventure sports, the policy says.

At present Goa attracts nearly 2.8 million tourists annually, out of which over half a million are foreigners.

Setting its sights on the emerging segment of health and wellness tourism, which attracted over 1.3 million people to India in 2013 alone, the draft policy suggests that Goa has "good basic healthcare infrastructure" to cater to the segment.

But more needs to be done, the draft policy says.

"While medical tourism is growing in Goa, the government is keen to attract investments in new facilities and draw more medical tourists to Goa for high-end and complicated procedures. For medical tourism to take off in a big way, uniformity and quality of services offered are critical," the report says, recommending several steps which the Goa government could take to beef itself up in the medical tourism sector.

The recommendations include setting up of large healthcare facilities to meet the needs of increasing medical tourists, mandatory registration with the Directorate of Health Services and the Goa Medical Council for facilities offering medical tourism and a rate card and details of facilities to be offered.

Also meted is a government portal with details of each healthcare facility and which will serve as a liaison between patients and doctors and medical facilities.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in)

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