Anxious about the drop in number of tourists to Goa as well as “low quality tourism” Goa’s Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo on Wednesday said the coastal state, which is a known tourism destination, needs to have a “chintan baithak” to resolve the crisis. Lobo, who is a ruling BJP legislator from the Calangute constituency, which is host to three popular beaches Baga, Calangute and Candolim in North Goa, said most beaches were littered with broken alcohol bottles, making even walking on the beaches risky after New Year celebrations. “Quality tourists did not come to Goa this year and this is a reason to worry. We should have a ‘chintan baithak’ over this. The ‘baithak’ should include Minister of Tourism, GTDC officials, tourism board officials, as well as members of the hotel industry, coastal belt MLAs and sarpanches,” Lobo told a press conference.
He also rued the trend of breaking alcohol bottles on beaches, which he said was a public hazard. “There were so many smashed bottles on our beaches like Baga, Calangute. We had to hire people to clear the beaches on January 1. Do we need such tourists? What type of tourism are we promoting? Is this an alcohol destination where alcohol is available on the roads, where you can drink alcohol and break a bottle on the road?” Lobo said. Travel and tourism industry stakeholders have claimed that tourist numbers to Goa, which last season had attracted more than seven million tourists, had dropped considerably this season. While the Tourism Ministry has claimed that it has not tabulated the tourist arrival figures for the year 2018 yet, the president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa Savio Messias has said that the dip was as much as 30 per cent, adding that most hotels in the state were underbooked during the festive season, when bookings peak.
The deputy speaker said police need to be empowered to penalise tourists drinking and cooking in the open. “Whatever rules and regulations are required, they should be put in place. Tourists were openly cooking with gas cylinders in the parking areas in Calangute next to the parked buses. We don’t want these kind of tourists who come and litter the place,” Lobo said. In December 2017, the chief minister had said that the government was identifying places where low budget tourists visiting the state can cook, camp and avail of toilet provisions. However, this proposal is yet to see the light of the day. “Because of this type of tourists we’re not getting quality tourists. The good tourists have gone from Goa. We need to do some thinking on why we’re not getting quality tourists. If we don’t take corrective steps now, then tourism in Goa will die a slow death,” the deputy speaker said.