Russian ‘guide’ under Goa Tourism department scanner

Panaji, Feb 23 (IANS) The Goa Tourism department on Thursday said it was probing the antecedents of a Russian national who was detained by the state Tourism Security Force, while allegedly working as a tour guide.

In a statement issued here, the state Tourism Department has said that Misha Shalmov, 41, has been asked to submit more documents to prove his credentials failing which action would be taken against him.

Shalmov was detained in the picturesque Collem village in south Goa, home to the Dudhsagar waterfall, which is a popular on the Russian tourist circuit, after complaints by local tour operators, who alleged that the Russian national was working in Goa in violation of visa norms.

“He has submitted some documents. However the Department of Tourism has sought more documents,” the statement said.

The Russian national however, who has been given 48 hours to submit his visa papers and documentation, claimed that he is in India on a business visa and was working as a representative of a Russia-based tour company, which has tasked him with maintaining quality control of tour packages, signed up for by Russian tourists to India.

“I do not work as a guide. I am on a business visa,” Shalmov told reporters.

Goa attracts more than four million tourists, out of which nearly half a million are foreign nationals. The state Tourism Department over the last few years have fined several foreign nationals, who moonlight as tour guides in the state, following complaints by local tour guides and tour operators.