New Delhi, March 4 - Security for tourists, especially foreign women, will top the agenda of Tourism Minister Kumari Selja at a meeting of seven western states and union territories in Goa Saturday.
According to a ministry official, in the past few months many cases of sexual assault on foreigners in Goa have been reported and the minister will be taking up the issue of providing them more security.
'At the meeting, one of the main issues would be how to provide a safe and secure environment to tourists,' the official told IANS.
Selja had called up Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat Jan 27 following the alleged rape of a nine-year-old Russian girl in north Goa's popular Arambol beach. Police had subsequently arrested two men.
Nearly two million tourists visit Goa annually, and of these around 450,000 are foreigners. Crimes against foreigners, especially Russians, have seen Goa receive a lot of media attention in recent times. The most sensational incident was the rape and murder of British teenager Scarlett Keeling two years ago.
The official said Saturday's meet would be the fourth since August last year. The tourism ministers of Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli are scheduled to attend the meet.
The conference will be flagged off with a road show, which would showcase the various destinations the region boasts of.
The official said the whole idea of holding such meets was to focus on areas that could be improved or needed attention.
Also, the aim is to focus on developing better facilities to make India a sought-after destination and clear the bottlenecks that various stakeholders face.
'The ministry has been holding such regional conferences with a view to ensuring holistic and integrated tourism development in close cooperation and coordination with the states and union territories,' said the official.
'Apart from security, the bottlenecks coming in the way of effective growth of the tourism sector in the region will also be discussed,' the official added.
Other issues would be how to ensure seamless travel in inter-state circuits, hospitality education and training and initiation for skill training for the hospitality sector, the official added.
Earlier, Selja had chaired a northern and central states' meet Aug 18, a northeastern states' meet Dec 6 and a southern states' conference Jan 16 this year.