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Panaji, Jul 7: The Goa tourism department is all set to sell `raindrops' to the tourist in the state, tucked on the western hill ranges, which, otherwise, is famous for its sandy beaches.

``In monsoons, the sea is rough. We discourage visitors to go to the beaches and instead we highlight the lush green hinterlands,'' tourism minister Fransisco Pacheco stated.

The state which attracted 24 lac tourist for the calendar year 2005-06 has considerable number of guests entering the borders to enjoy rains. Depending on the last year's statistics, the state tourism department expects around five lac tourists to visit the state in wet spell.

Goa's aggressive marketing and campaign as a 365 days' destination has helped the state to do away with the concept of tourist season. ``Every month is a tourist season… We have lots to offer for the tourists and we are harping on it,'' Pacheco said.

The statistics available during last three years reveals that around four lac tourist visit Goa during monsoons which also includes foreigners. The year 2006 saw total 24.79 lac tourists of which 4,37,767 domestic and 19,121 foreigners visited during monsoons.

Also, in the year 2005, 4.20 lac domestic and 16,205 foreign tourists arrived when it was raining.

The year 2004, which had exposition of St Francis Xavier's holy relics, saw maximum foreign tourists visiting during monsoon season. That year, 4.11 lac domestic and 28,764 foreigners arrived in this coastal state.

``Average occupancy in any of the Goan hotel during monsoons is hovering around 60 per cent,'' director tourism Sandip Jacques said.

``Eco resorts have sprung up in Goa's hinterland adding a new type of accommodation option. Amongst these are small retreats in spice plantations and the jungles. Some even provide eco huts to stay in,'' Jacques said.

The state tourism department is also attempting to promote Goa as a meeting, incentive, conferences and exhibition (MICE) destination. The star hotels have floated packages for the corporates and they are big hit,'' the director stated.

The monsoon festivals, which are integral part of Goa's social life, is also packaged by various hotels attracting tourists. ``San Joao, a festival celebrated honouring St John de Baptista, is loved by many guests. Also, there is a boat festival called Sangod, which is marketed for the tourist to sell the destination,'' he said.

``Goan heritage lives on, even today, in its wonderful old heritage homes and forts. In fact now you can even stay at some of these homes which have been converted, quite painstakingly, into quality hotels,'' Jacques stated.

The state tourism industry is also innovating concepts to promote honeymoon tourism in the state which includes isolated boat rooms and resorts offering complete privacy to the couples.

``The response is encouraging during monsoons and we are hopeful that the tourism industry will see boom away from the beach tourism,'' Jacques said.


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