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PUSHES FOR OPENING UP OF WATER-WAYS FOR BOOSTING COASTAL TOURISM 
Mumbai Feb 04, 2015:
 Union Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhu’s recent announcement commissioning local taxi and auto drivers as tourist guides at Kankavali station has been applauded by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI). The association has cited this effort as a sign of inclusive governance that goes beyond its scope of work to support ancillary industries.

Commending the vision, President of HRAWI, Mr. Bharat Malkani said, “Although this decision does not affect or directly impact the hotel industry, the move indicates the tone of the Government. To us, this is a promising sign and gives us hope.”

“It is an idea that is both simple and ingenious. However, it is also very crucial that thorough audits must be done to identify that these taxi and auto drivers are indeed locals and that the training should include development of their soft skills for tourists to feel a home. With suitable training, which according to the Minister would be provided by the Railways and the State Government, there are none who are more suited than local taxi and auto drivers to act as tourist guides. Not only will tourists get access to easy, convenient and legitimate information off hand, but it will also give the locals additional income, besides enhancing the experience of tourists visiting the place,” he added.

HRAWI has been advocating the development and promotion of tourism in the coastal regions of Maharashtra. Projecting the Konkan beach belt, which the association believes is underrated and untapped, is expected to generate employment opportunities and significant revenues to the state.

“Beaches along the Konkan stretch of Maharashtra are unparalleled in their beauty. With ample sunshine, golden sand and sub culture, atmosphere, cuisine and people that are unique to this region, it is as good, if not better than Goa or surrounding places. If only the Government focuses on improving the transport infrastructure and connectivity, the tourist arrivals could easily see an appreciated surge,” says Mr. Malkani.

Meanwhile, HRAWI also appealed to the Government to implement its earlier proposal for opening up the waterways as this could boost coastal tourism. “Mumbai has one of the biggest ports and waterways and the possibility that it could be utilized as a medium of transportation has been overlooked for long. If the government looks at opening up this possibility, then tourists could use the water mode to reach their beach of choice. This could irrevocably change the landscape of tourism in the state,” concluded Mr. Malkani.CCI Newswire

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