'Tourism will suffer in Goa sans fair taxi service'

Panaji, Aug 26 (IANS) If Goa does not provide fair and efficient taxi transportation service, the coastal state will lag behind as a tourism destination, the stakeholders of the state's oldest travel and tourism body said on Monday.

Savio Messias, President, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), also backed Chief Minister Pramod Sawant for not bowing down to the demands of the local taxi lobby, which was on a nine-day strike demanding the scrapping of GoaMiles, a government-backed app-based cab aggregator service.

"Goa cannot afford to be left behind in this space as it will render in us becoming non-competitive and the Chief Minister and his cabinet have displayed great courage in seeing that we progress on this front," Messias told reporters.

Backing Sawant for his "strong and decisive" leadership while handling the taxi strike issue, Messias said: "Transportation solutions which involve technology, especially app-based taxis, are more efficient and have a fairer mechanism of price discovery and utilisation of assets. They are the norm in most parts of the world today."

Several thousands of the 30,000-odd tourist registered taxi drivers went on strike earlier this month, demanding the closure of GoaMiles, an app-based taxi service outsourced by the state government-operated Goa Tourism Development Corporation to a private entity.

The taxi drivers had alleged that the app-based service directly impacted the livelihood of Goa's cab drivers, who were also a politically entrenched lobby.

The strike came on the heels of several assaults on drivers of the cab aggregator service by local taxi drivers over the last few months.

The cab aggregator service was introduced in 2018 amid consistent complaints of over-charging and intimidation by Goa's taxi drivers who operate in an unregulated environment.

Several attempts by the state government to implement a fare meter system have failed. The August deadline set by the high court to install fare meters in taxis has also not been met.

--IANS

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