Fifty lakh pilgrims are expected to visit Old Goa during the 44 days of the Exposition of St. Francis Xavier commencing November 22.Elaborate arrangements have been put in place to cater to the laity travelling to Goa from across the globe and country. The Goa Archdiocese is estimating at least 1 lakh pilgrims to descend at Old Goa daily, while during the SFX novenas and December holidays there could be around 1.5 lakh visitors every day. The church has also made special arrangements to accommodate 1,800 pilgrims with beds and food by charging a nominal fee of Rs 150. An additional 500 pilgrims are proposed to be accommodated at its retreat house. Fr.Alfred Vaz, Convener of the SFX Exposition 2014 said, “All arrangements are well taken care of and elaborate arrangements for security, traffic plans, cleanliness are being worked out by the government.”
The SFX Exposition Secretariat along with the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) office and a health center have already been set up and all aspects concerning the SFX Exposition 2014 will be tackled therein. Top priority is being given towards ensuring hygiene and cleanliness and systems are being put in place such as anti-vector remedies, first aid , three bed medical facility, ambulance services and so on. Arrangements for supply of safe drinking water and hot water for bathing have also been made.
In view of the large arrivals of tourists from far and wide, the tourism department and the Goa Tourism Development Corporation have also appointed personnel for guiding tourists, travel bookings and tourism related information. Special ‘Hop-On Hop-Off’ buses will be introduced by the GTDC for giving visitors a tour of Old Goa and its monuments. The tour will give tourists and pilgrims an insight into history and heritage.
The Chairman of Goa Tourism Development Corporation, Nilesh Cabral said, “ the decennial Exposition of St Francis Xavier is a big occasion for Goa and the tourism ministry s working closely with the church to ensure that all visitors have a comfortable stay and take advantage of Goa in its full glory.”