The Goa Government has launched hot air balloon and amphibious vehicle services in the picturesque state of beaches.Tourists can now travel in the hot air balloon that will fly over picturesque landscape offering an aerial view of the popular tourist destinations.The new facilities were launched here in the presence of Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, State Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar and others.
Delhi-based Camping Retreats of India Pvt Ltd will run the two services from Panaji initially, and will be later operated from other prominent tourist spots of the State. Amphibious vehicle, which can run on road and ply in waters, was also launched. “This new venture is all set to give tourists a thrilling experience in Goa’s inland waterways,” Parulekar told reporters after the launch. He said tourists can tour across backwaters and catch a glimpse of the flora and fauna in the surroundings.
“The 33-seater passenger vessel can operate across seven routes in five talukas of Goa,” he added. Both adventure services will focus on highlighting Goa’s hinterlands and will give tourists an opportunity to explore the rich geography of the state via the sky and the waterways. The amphibious vehicles are the first-of-its-kind for use by civilians in the country.
Tourist arrivals to reach 10 million
Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar also said that tourists arrival in the state may rise up to 10 million by 2017. After launching hot air balloon and amphibious vehicle service in the state, he said, ”we may have 10 million tourists arriving to Goa by 2017, the year we will go for fresh elections (state Assembly polls)”. He said the overall tourism has gone up by 12 per cent since the time BJP-led government took reigns of the state in 2012. “The tourist arrival has been on the rise. There was a rise of nine per cent during last year and 14 per cent in the previous year. The decline was recorded because of a slump in arrivals from Russia,” the minister said. Goa receives around five million tourists annually. Parulekar said though arrivals of chartered flight have dropped this year, overall tourism sector has been witnessing a gradual rise. “The visa-on-arrival facility introduced at the state-run Dabolim airport has aided in tourists arrival. Around 20,000 people came through the facility since its introduction four months back,” he said.
Larger plan to introduce new services for tourists
In January this year Goa Tourism had selected two agencies for providing hot air balloons and amphibious vessels in the state for offering a dedicated, safe and thrilling experience to the tourists, stated a release. Camping Retreats Pvt. Ltd., a Delhi-based agency, was selected to provide the hot air ballooning service, while US-based consortium with D’Souza Leisure Pvt. Ltd. Goa to offer amphibious vehicles. The idea of initiating these products came from the Goa Tourism Development Corporation Limited (GTDC) as part of the larger plan to introduce new services for tourists in Goa. Buoyed by the success of white water rafting and the women’s taxi service in 2014, GTDC had set April 2015 as the target to launch these new ventures.
To facilitate ‘hop on hop off’ tours
According to preliminary data, as many as six amphibious vehicles will be introduced utilising Goa’s wide network of ferry ramps. The vessels can operate on water and land and are equipped with all facilities required for effective and smooth conduct of operations. This venture will further facilitate ‘hop on hop off’ tours along Goa’s inland waterways and chain of jetties and ferry ramps, bird watching tours and Ecotourism tours. The initial plan is to introduce hot air balloon tours to Dudhsagar Water Falls.