Goa media urged to overlook tourism-related misadventures

Panaji, Aug 11 (IANS) With sensational scandal after scandal tumbling out in Goa, the state tourism department is losing sleep over the large doses of adverse publicity received by the beach tourism-oriented state across the globe, and has urged media to overlook tourism-related misadventures.

After virtually imploring the media to ‘overlook’ administrative shortcomings, top state tourism officials Wednesday told reporters in a press conference that they had subscribed to an expensive and exclusive web service to track down news related to Goa tourism, published in all media publications and blogs worldwide.

‘We have subscribed to a search engine which tracks news from all newspaper websites, electronic media in all languages and translate it to English. We get daily news updates twice a day related to Goa tourism in any language,’ state tourism director Swapnil Naik said.

The service subscribed to by the Goa tourism department is called ‘Night Walker’, a web-service which keeps track of pre-designated key searches on the internet. According to Naik, the government will pay Rs.2 lakh to ‘Night Walker’ annually, to keep track of news related to tourism in Goa.

‘We get a full report of what news is going worldwide about Goa. Whenever anything happens, with the help of this exercise, we are ready to react at any moment. We know who is covering Goa and what negative and positive they are saying about the tourism,’ the official said.

Goa’s image has taken a severe beating in the national and international media for the last few years, especially after the sexual assault and death of British teenager Scarlett Keeling at Anjuna beach in February 2008. Scarlett’s death and attempts by the state administration and the ruling political set up to scuttle the subsequent police investigation received global coverage, none of it complimentary.

Consistent news reportage of subsequent sexual assaults and mysterious deaths of foreign women tourists in the state has also damaged the reputation of Goa as a safe tourist destination.

‘Irrespective of reality, what comes out in the media also becomes reality,’ said state tourism secretary M.M. Modassir. The official also asked the media to ‘overlook shortcomings’ of the administrative system.

‘We seek to have better interaction with the media. This is the beginning,’ Modassir added.

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