Emergency helpline for tourists in Goa

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Old 17-Feb-2011
Emergency helpline for tourists in Goa

Panaji: Tourists visiting Goa, which has seen its image as a dream destination take a beating in the recent past, will soon be able to dial a toll-free number in case of emergency situations day or night.

The special 24-hour helpline will be operated on a public private partnership (PPP) basis, state tourism director Swapnil Naik told IANS.

The helpline would be dedicated to tourist-related concerns and address emergencies on an urgent basis, he added.

"We are looking forward to working on a PPP model to initiate and manage the functioning of this helpline. The centre too is working towards setting up a National Tourist Helpline," Naik said.

Over the last few years, Goa has been grappling to overcome the negative media it received after the sexual assault and death of British teenager Scarlett Keeling and the subsequent attempts made by the state administration to cover up the crime in 2008.

Over the last two years, there have been several other cases involving sexual assaults on Russian tourists. Tourists from Britain and Russia form the biggest contingents of visitors, as far as the half a million foreign tourists visiting the state annually are concerned.

Move welcomed

In the light of negative publicity, initiatives by the state tourism department like the proposed helpline likely to be introduced next month have found support from tourism industry stakeholders.

"The setting up of a tourist helpline is an excellent initiative put forward by the Goa Tourism Department and the industry welcomes it wholeheartedly," said Ralph de Souza, spokesperson for the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG)

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