Vivek Kerkar- The fresh face at the helm of SKAL International Goa.


Well-known business man Mr. Vivek Kerkar was recently appointed as the new president of SKAL International Goa. Mr. Kerkar, who is a second generation businessman, founded Liquid Gold, a reputable beverage company in 1994 which is currently a successful partnership firm. He also serves as a Director at Somy Resorts Pvt Limited and is a partner in Lambana Resorts. Beyond business, he is an active member of the Rotary Club and has held various positions, including Chairman, at the Saraswat Education Society. He has also contributed 15 years to SKAL International Goa, showcasing his commitment to the tourism industry.

In an exclusive interaction with Goa Tycoon, Mr. Vivek Kerkar, the newly appointed president of SKAL International Goa, shares his long-term and short-term vision for boosting tourism in Goa. He also talks about the need for stakeholders and policymakers to collectively focus on heritage, culinary and hinterland tourism to enhance the state’s tourism profile.

Q: What is SKAL International Goa’s vision for the tourism industry in the state?

Kerkar: SKAL International Goa is dedicated to working cohesively for progress and collaboration within the tourism sector. We coordinate daily meetings with all tourism stakeholders, focusing on promotions and ensuring the industry functions smoothly. Addressing various challenges encountered by the tourism industry is also a key part of our responsibilities. SKAL International Goa has 134 members, including 91 hoteliers and 42 Young SKAL members.

Q: What are the key challenges before the tourism sector in Goa?

Kerkar: Goa, a long-standing favourite for international and domestic tourists, faces challenges in environmental sustainability,infrastructure development and congestion due to increased tourism. Insufficient accessible footpaths and roads lead to traffic issues. The industry urgently needs a skilled, trained workforce. Efforts are essential to enhance communication skills for interacting with diverse cultures. Goa also needs to improve its public infrastructure, including roads, footpaths and signages, to enhance and improve the tourist experience. It is crucial to address these challenges to maintain Goa’s appeal as a popular, tourist-friendly destination.

How have Goa’s tourism strengths improved over the last two decades?

Kerkar: Goans, by nature, are very friendly and cooperative. That is where our strength comes from. It is one of the biggest factors behind the sharp increase in tourism in Goa. Goa has a plethora of beautiful beaches, shacks and cuisine which are major points of attraction. Wellness tourism, hinterland tourism, eco-friendly tourism align with our culture. There is also water-sports tourism, which is a major attraction.

Q: Goa has hosted a series of sports and adventure sports events, including the highprofile IRONMAN 70.3 India and mega events like the National Games. How is Goa poised to attract the sports and adventure tourism markets in this light?

Kerkar: I believe the sports infrastructure in Goa has seen a lot of investment and renovation by the state government, especially for the National Games. Sports holds a tremendous potential as a tourist attraction, especially when it comes to adventure and water sports. We are currently developing proposals in this regard.

Q. How can Goa cash in on its reputation as a leading gastronomic tourism destination?

Kerkar: Goa’s significance as a leading gastronomic tourism destination can also be capitalised on by organising weekly or monthly festivals that feature food vendors that highlight Goa’s melting pot of cultures and implementing adequate safety and health measures with government backing. I think we ought to make it a point to invite restaurants that serve higher quality cuisines that meld local ingredients and international ingredients from the new countries we are targeting as outbound destinations, celebrating fusion and multiculturalism. We can then utilise social media and digital marketing in a large way to promote these ventures. It is also crucial to preserve Goa’s unique culinary tradition, blending Portuguese and Goan influences.

Q: Does Goa need to widen its reach to more outbound international tourism destinations? What are the possibilities that can be explored and what can we offer foreign tourists from these destinations?

Kerkar: Yes, this is going to be a must. The United States (US) has shown significant interest in Goa. With the introduction of direct flights from New York to Goa, even a small influx of tourists from the US can contribute significantly to premium tourism. Where Goa is concerned, we should definitely look at Southeast Asia, the Middle East, European (especially Scandinavian) countries, focusing on countries we have not properly explored previously. Goa is a veritable treasure trove of places to visit, sights to see and cultures to immerse yourself in! Foreign nationals will not have a dearth of things to do while in Goa. We have globally renowned architecturally significant temples and churches, picturesque beaches and rivers and hinterland tourism in Dudhsagar which are ideal pulling points for foreign tourists from these new outbound destinations. Medical tourism, too, has an exponential scope in Goa and should be strongly promoted in potential outbound destinations.