Look inside to find the killers of Goa’s tourism, not outside
They say when you have enemies at home, you don’t need enemies from outside
The killers of Goas tourism are not outside. They are right inside, and their power and influence have been growing steadily. It is the greed of these inside killers of tourism with their powerful linkages with the system and the establishment, that has killed Goa’s tourism, almost beyond redemption.
According to moneycontrol.com, a new search report from US-based vacation rental firm Airbnb reveals that for domestic travellers, Kerala is a more popular beach destination than Goa, apart from the hills of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, as well as the North-Eastern regions.
This doesn’t seem as shocking anymore because there are visible ground realities faced not by ordinary Goans, but by those Goans who have given their heart and soul, blood, and tears to building businesses around tourism and they have been let down. Not by outside forces, but very much from within.
When can we expect honest rates from tourist taxis?
The tourist taxis are simply unwilling to settle on honest rates. Since they are not a point-to-point service, honest rates can only be pre-decided for all and fed into a digital meter. So many groups and authorities and tourism stakeholders have had to knock on the doors of the court and even receive a direction for installing digital taxi meters. Yet there seemingly was contempt for these orders and the government’s directions are flouted with no fear. Are outside forces responsible for this too?
In June 2022, The High Court dismissed the contempt plea after the government made the submission that out of 11250 taxis, 9366 have been fitted with meters. But is that the ground reality?
Are even 1 % of the 9366 functional with rates charged as per those meters or are they just showpieces or paperweights? And if they just show pieces, then is this an actual, implementation of the High Court order?
The tourism ecosystem, beyond taxis, consists of many elements, each controlled by the state. If one looks inwards, the killers of Goa tourism will be found
Quality of tourists
Goa is fast slipping away from the tourists who want to come and spend some quality time, soak in the state’s culture and environment, contribute to the economy by their spending and go back with pleasant memories.
But the quality of tourists who are entering Goa is causing the right kind of tourists to look for other places in neighbouring Karnataka and Maharashtra, and even to Kerala, as the Airbnb trend report for the year had clearly stated.
Sleep on the bus and defecate on the streets tourists
What we are getting are busloads of “tourists” carrying their utensils, foodgrains, and cooking oil and arriving here for a picnic where they sleep on the bus and cook and defecate on our streets.
Pushing cars into the sea tourists
This category is increasing where outside tourists with SUVs and other cars are driving into beaches and pushing their cars into the sea, some carrying alcohol bottles which break, and glass is scattered all over. But they are not the outside forces destroying tourism. The forces are within, which do not stop irresponsible tourists and allow wrongdoing to flourish, to an extent that this becomes normal. And this is done by those who are “inside”. These kinds of tourists are just swimmers in the already spoilt murky waters, by the inside killers of tourism, who are in Goa.
Drug-pushing and trance party tourists
There are hundreds and hundreds of underground trance and rave parties in jungles and hidden places all over North Goa as well as some clubs where music is played till the sun comes up. No one checks on what visa the foreign DJs playing here, entered our country.
Most of these places don’t have an excise license nor do they contribute to Goa’s revenue. And it is no secret that these parties are also the marketplace for the sale of drugs and chemical substances. They too are tourists. But can you hold them responsible for spoiling Goa tourism? Shouldn’t you look inwards to see how the police stations and the local bodies are at various levels linked to, are perpetrators of illegalities?
Cases and suspensions of state service cops for their alleged links to the drug lobby or in one case named by the British drug dealer as being on his payroll are clear indications of this link.
So is the rot outside or is it within?
Goa is the most expensive destination to fly in and out of, and its taxis are even more expensive.
Getting to Goa and back is almost as expensive as a return fare to a nearby international destination. At times it is cheaper to go abroad than come to Goa. And then when foreigners are charged ad hoc rates of 50 dollars to go less than 10 km and 100 dollars to go less than 25, can you really have a good holiday? An international destination is known for its services, ease of travel, and value for money.
Goa has no transport system, and no affordable connectivity, but it has the muscle flexing of its taxi lobby and then downright violence when tourists are roughed up, shoved out of buses, and their drivers thrashed. Do we need scared and shivering tourists? And are outside forces indulging in muscle flexing and violence?
These factors are pushing good tourists away. Goa has become a destination for drugs and trances. This is something that none other than the anti-Narcotics Wing of the Hyderabad police has stated during their investigations in to NDPS cases lodged in Hyderabad in which the accused are from Goa.
As a result, even in the peak season, hotel rooms in midlevel and even high-end hotels are empty, and room rates, instead of going up, have gone down in many places.
Goa isn’t quite the draw it once was. With garbage, traffic, high cost of transportation, unclean beaches, and unsafe roads in some places, it is far from the idyllic paradise, it portrays itself to be.
The government and the system have an opportunity to course correct. And the hope is that they will look within to see who the killers of Goa’s tourism are. The outside forces are just passengers riding on this train of greed and corruption, whose architects live, work, get elected, and prosper right here.
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