OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
New Delhi: The Goa tourism ministry has scrapped a session on gay tourism at an industry festival after some local outfits and the Shiv Sena complained against it.
The session on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) tourists was to have been the first segment at the three-day Goa International Tourism Mart that began today. It was scrapped yesterday after two NGOs — the Divya Jagruthi Pratishthan and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti — as well as the Sena filed a complaint with the Panaji subdivisional police officer. In a curt press note, tourism director Swapnil Naik wrote: “We have dropped the LGBT session from the programme list.”
In Delhi, the Union tourism ministry was reluctant to speak on the matter. “It is a sensitive issue and I cannot say anything,” a senior ministry official said.
Sources in the tourism industry said the LGBT tourism sector would be a high revenue earner and the government would be ignoring it at its own risk. For a tour operator, a gay couple means “double income, no kids”, said a source.
The contention of the protesting groups was that by proposing to cater to tourists based on their sexual preferences, Goa was being reduced to a destination for sex tourism.
But Arjun Sharma, the senior vice-president of Le Passage to India which is a tour operator, disagreed. “It is unfair to categorise gays with paedophiles or to treat LGBT tourism as sex tourism. They are like any of us and would behave in the same manner as any heterosexual person would on a holiday. What they need is more sensitivity and tolerance from us.”
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Full text here: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1111023/jsp/nation/story_14656458.js