Russians, Iranians, French accused of illegal tour ops in Goa
Panaji: The Russians, Iranians and French are increasingly indulging in illegal travel and tour guiding activity in Goa, a human right organisation claimed today, warning to take up the issue with the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) or Lokayukta alleging involvement of tourism department officials in it.
"The Russian tour agencies are operating in areas like Calangute, Candolim, Colva and Morjim illegally, which is banned as per the state tourism laws," Advino Fernandes, President of Human Rights Defenders told reporters today.
He claimed that they have been violating Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines and other local laws, sheltered by the tourism department.
The organisation has decided to take up the cause of travel agents and tour guides who are facing the brunt of these illegalities and approach ACB.
Fernandes alleged that the tourism department officials have been hand in gloves with these illegal trades.
He claimed that these agencies have been offering tour packages to the foreigners including Russians at a rate of USD 40 a day.
"This is not allowed as per local tourism laws. This is happening because tourism department officials are in connivance with them," he said.
The organisation has already written letter to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar seeking justice.
"If we don’t get justice here, we will approach the anti corruption bureau of local police or Lokayukta," he said.
The activity is also affecting the tour guiding activity at World Heritage Monuments at Old Goa, near here.
Jenny Pacheco, a lady tour guide, said that the Russians, Iranian and French escorts who accompany the foreigners as a part of their packaged tour to India are doubling up as tour guides.
"The local tour guides are properly trained for the purpose." she said
Fernandes said that the law concerning Archeological monuments makes it mandatory that the guide should a regional person.
"The escorts usually collect whatever information they could get from local newspapers and some from the travel literature and decipher it to the tourists," he added.
"The fact that foreign nationals are engaged in guiding at the monuments can be traced from the CCTV footage installed in the Basilica of Bom Jesus (a Church in Old Goa)," Fernandes stated.
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