Goa travel event will drop promotion of LGBT tourism

Published 21 October 2011  |  
The Goa state government has consented to hold back the promotion of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) tourism in a major international travel event that is currently underway.

After protests from the Church and other religious groups, the state government on Thursday said discussions on LGBT tourism won't be part of the Goa International Travel Mart organised by the Department of Tourism from Oct. 21 - 23.

State Tourism Minister Nilkanth Halarnkar told reporters that the session on LGBT was dropped keeping in mind the sentiments of the people.

"The organizers wanted to hold a discussion on the subject as it is a growing trend in the European countries. However, since it has gone against the wish of our Goan men, we decided to drop the session," Halarnkar said.

Fr Francisco Caldeira, spokesman of the Goa Catholic Church, said that the state government "should not orient itself towards this kind of tourism".

Caldeira opined that people cannot be stopped from coming to Goa for holidaying. "But the campaigns should not be inclined towards inviting them specially," Caldeira said.

Several Hindu groups such as the Bharat Swabhiman Trust and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti have opposed the attempt to promote Goa as a gay-friendly destination.

A criminal complaint was also filed with the Panjim police station demanding strict action against GITM organizers.

The Goa International Travel Mart is expected to see some 400 stakeholders from around 28 countries.

The event is being held in collaboration with ITB Berlin and will see participants from countries like Singapore, South Africa, UK, Italy, US, Japan, Russia, France, Korea and Thailand.

Goa attracts 2.6 million tourists of which 0.4 million are foreigners and earns revenue of Rs 6,000-7,000 crore.

Goa recently saw a surge of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual tourists after the country decriminalised homosexual acts in 2009.

Gay Tourism is said to be a multi-million dollar industry worldwide with $ 2 trillion turnover expected by 2012.

The Catholic Church earlier expressed that the manner in which tourism was being promoted in Goa, it had virtually swamped and overshadowed the ethos of Goa.

"Culture is one of Goa's most precious assets and tourism must seek to advance itineraries through which there can be an encounter of cultures in all tourism spaces," said Fr Maverick Fernandes, executive secretary of the council for social justice and peace, a wing of the Goa Church.

"It is, however, important to guard against Goan culture being reduced to a mere commodity," he cautioned.

"From the inception of mass tourism in Goa, the Church reflected with others on the danger of reducing the host to a hostage, wherein the locals would be pushed to cater to the 'varied tastes' of the tourist without allowing them to promote their own culture," Fernandes said.

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