There used to be a tavern at St Inez. This watering hole was where the night owls of Panjim – journalists, policemen and other insomniacs would congregate after their long working nights, while the world around them slept blissfully. There’s not much that I remember about the food there; but what has been etched in my memory is that whenever you asked the opinion about the items on the menu to the jovial owner, he would say “best in the world.” Till this day, regulars at the joint cannot but remember fondly the memories of those days and the phrase that threatens to break into the legend of the city.
Which brings me to the whole funda of being ‘world class’. We, in Goa, use the term rather loosely, often without understanding the true intent of the sentiment. Easy to please, as most of us are, the idea of ‘world class’ seems far-fetched to those who have not seen the world in the true sense of the concept; let alone being able to compete on a world space.
One of the main criteria to be ‘world class’ is to be able to compete on a global platform in the same category or unit and be the best of the best – a first among equals.
So we have ‘world class’ cuisine, apartments, hotels, apparel and what not. But the moot question that nobody begs to answer is whether we are really world class?
One of the areas, that I feel Goa has an outer chance to compete globally, is tourism. But look at the state of affairs in our state – we don’t have a hang of many basic issues. Firstly, the total absence of good quality, reliable public transport for people to get around the state. Followed by the sparse population of information kiosks and trained personnel to guide travelers. Then you have complete absence of clarity and standardization of private vehicular players. And lack of clear tourism policy – that Holy Grail which has been promised for years, now. Jaunts and jamborees across the globe seem to have served the purpose of only a few officials and their cronies. Did I forget to mention filth and garbage strewn all over the state?
The other factor is that as a state we have been unable to repel fears of lack of safety for travelers to Goa. Whatever few unfortunate incidents that have taken place with regards to international and domestic tourists, the aftermath of which, have left the state with a very bad name. Agreed, there is little one can do with an unfortunate incident. But the state action following that can mean a lot in restoring traveler confidence. Swift remedy and showing of care and concern would go a long way in making Goa a chosen destination for global tourists.
I am happy to note that tourism ideas that you encounter in more evolved travel destinations like the hop on hop off buses have made their debut in the state. This mode is a nice way to get acquainted with the tourist destination with brief nuggets of history and stories of interest relayed to the traveler.
The internet is a great leveler. The response and reviews get posted by travelers on a real time basis. In this day of social media proliferation, being ‘world class’ is in the eye of the scanner every day. And there are no excuses for screw-ups.
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