Goa Casino Boat
Image: The Goa Casino Boat

G Kishan Reddy, the Union Tourism Minister, stated on Saturday that Goa has already been dubbed the "casino capital."

"Goa has already been dubbed the Casino Capital of the World. It is not necessary for us (the government) to provide it. It has already been declared by the general public." During a press conference, he stated.

Reddy was in town to unveil a number of tourism-related initiatives for the state's coast. Shripad Naik, a Union minister, was also there.

In response to a question about whether Goa would be designated as India's "casino capital," he said:
"It is open to the public (for casinos). They're either in this city or in Sikkim (both of which allow casinos). If proclaiming Goa as a casino capital benefits Goa, we can surely do it," the minister stated.

On Covid-19, he mentioned that the epidemic has had an impact on the state's tourism industry, which is seeing a resurgence as domestic travellers begin to travel around the country.

"The domestic tourism season is building up, but the third wave is causing some concern. I urge people to follow all appropriate protocols when visiting the country's numerous tourism sites." he stated

According to Reddy, state governments are preparing to follow the Covid-19 procedures as advised by the Centre.

In terms of the virus, they're also keeping an eye on worldwide trends. The arrival of international tourists is being closely monitored.

"I am certain that we will be able to manage the third wave and prevent it from hitting India." added the minister.

He claims that 125 crore individuals have been vaccinated so far, with another 25 crore vaccinations on hand in other states.

"I am positive that vaccine production will be increased by the end of December." he remarked.

According to Reddy, tourism officers have been sent to Indian embassies in 20 different countries with the objective of promoting Indian tourist spots in order to increase foreign traffic.

He also stated that the central government is trying to establish 75 international tourist attractions, adding that:
"these locations would be developed as iconic projects. In the days to come, cruise tourism will become a major sector that would be taken on a mission mode under the Sagarmala project," he added of Goa.

As per Reddy, a meeting of the Union tourism and shipping ministries would be held next week to draught an action plan for promoting tourism in Goa.

Despite the fact that Goa has six offshore casinos and a dozen onshore casinos in five-star hotels, the state has yet to issue a policy governing their activities. The offshore casinos are in the Mandovi, and the ports department has been looking for a new location to transfer them for years. One of them being the famous Goa boat casino named Big Daddy.

In 2012, former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar launched an anti-casino campaign. The BJP campaigned on the promise of removing offshore casinos from the Mandovi River, but the party has failed to accomplish it during the last decade.

The state government decides whether or not to grant them an extension every six months. On his election programme, Panaji MLA Atanasio 'Babush' Monserrate vowed to transfer casinos out of the Mandovi within 100 days of being elected, but then stated that they were needed in the river for the business community.

However Mahua Moitra, the Goa In-Charge of the All India Trinamool Congress, slammed Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy on Saturday last week for allegedly branding Goa as the country's "casino capital."

Mahua Moitra, speaking to the media, expressed surprise at the Union minister's statements, adding that his choice of words reveals the ruling BJP's low worldview.

Mahua Moitra stated that When the Union Tourism Minister visited Goa, he mentioned that the state has already been dubbed the "Casino Capital," and that there is nothing wrong with it being formally titled that way if it benefits the state. Humans travel to many cities around the world to do a variety of things.

However, I have yet to see any government ministry assign it a label based on that. Some people travel to Bangkok to do things they can't do in their own city. That doesn't imply Bangkok will get that tag. 

Moitra also commented that Goans do not like to live in a land known for its casinos. They would like a government that will ensure that it is not known as the "Casino Capital of the World. 

The Lok Sabha MP claimed Reddy had crossed the line with his remarks on Goa, and mentioned that what the people of Goa want is work in respectable areas that allows them to live a happy life.