Panaji: The Opposition members in Goa Assembly Tuesday criticised the state tourism department for huge expenditure on its foreign and domestic events, without conducting a pre-audit of the expenses.
The Opposition, led by independent MLA Vijay Sardesai, pointed out that former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had assured during monsoon session of the House that pre-audit of such expenses would be done.
"The assurance has not been adhered to and tourism minister Dilip Parulekar has been on a spending spree which is not fetching any results in increasing visitors to the state," Sardesai alleged.
Referring to a reply tabled in the House, Sardesai said the tourism ministry has spent Rs 22 crore on international events and Rs 20 crore on domestic tours since 2012 till date.
In the current year, for last two months the ministry has spent Rs 8.5 crore. The minister and department officials had participated in 32 events abroad, he said.
Responding to the allegation, Parulekar said that such visits are required to increase tourism footfalls. Without such participation, the state cannot be marketed, he said.
However, the minister admitted that the Ukraine-Russia crisis has resulted in decreased tourist arrivals from the two countries.
"These roadshows/ exhibitions proved to be tremendously successful and helped to showcase and promote Goa as a safe tourist destination of repute in the sphere of culture, leisure, weddings, adventure, music tourism, MICE, watersports, hinterland, etc enabling sustained increase in tourist inflow.
Goa emerged as the winner of several awards and accolades within India and abroad due to efforts of the department," said the reply tabled by the minister.
"...Several measures undertaken for safety and security of tourists and other facilities existing in the state were communicated to foreign tourists and tour operators," he said.
However, Congress legislator Aleixo Reginaldo and other Opposition members were not convinced with the reply and kept arguing over the issue.
Sardesai alleged that the expenditure was a "scam" and demanded that the assurance of pre-audit should be implemented.