PANAJI: Nearly fifty lakh pilgrims are expected to visit old Goa during the 44-day Exposition of the St Francis Xavier commencing from November 22, organisers said.
Elaborate arrangements have been put in place to cater to the laity travelling to Goa from across the country and globe, convener, Exposition committee Fr Alfred Vaz said yesterday.
He said that the Goa Archdiocese is estimating at least one lakh pilgrims to descend at old Goa daily, while during the St Francis Xavier (SFX) novenas (prayers offered for nine days) and December holidays, visitors' number may rise up to 1.5 lakh each day.
The holy relics of St Francis Xavier would be taken from Basilica of Bom Jesus Church to Se Cathedral church on November 22, where it will be kept open for public viewing till January 4, 2015.
Fr Vaz said that church has also made special arrangements to accommodate 1,800 pilgrims with beds and food by charging a nominal fee of Rs 150.
A SFX Exposition Secretariat along with a Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) office and a health centre have already been set up and all aspects concerning the SFX Exposition 2014 will be looked after at the centres.
"Top priority is 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 etc. Arrangements for safe drinking water have also been made," GTDC Chairman Nilesh Cabral said.
In view of arrival of a large number of tourists, the tourism department and GTDC have also appointed personnel for travel bookings, guiding and helping tourists with travel related information. A special 'Hop-On Hop-Off' buses will be introduced by GTDC for sightseeing in the city.
Cabral said that the decennial Exposition of St Francis Xavier is a big occasion for Goa and tourism ministry is working closely with the church to ensure that all visitors have a comfortable stay and take advantage of Goa in its full glory.