12 Goa Tourism hurt by Over-exploitation - Bosco de Souza Eremita

posted Jan 30, 2019, 9:24 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 30, 2019, 9:25 AM ]
The planeloads of foreign tourists and pleasure-seekers are no longer descending on the coastal state of Goa — a bastion of Christianity in India — with such regularity, lured by its palm-fringed beaches and hippie vibe. The lines of local tourists vying to try their hand at jet-skiing or paragliding have also shortened. For the first time in years, hotel occupancy rates reportedly shot down to around 50 per cent on average over Christmas and New Year, significantly lower than in previous peak seasons in this former tourist hot-spot. But now, Goa's tourism industry is in trouble, industry experts say, and increasing costs are just one factor.

Britain's Rob Humper has been a regular visitor in the past, but he doesn't plan on returning any time soon. "We're backpacking folk. The food here has been really good, but we won't be coming next season. It's hard to afford the taxes, visa prices, and the ever-growing basic room rates, and even harder to find available trains," he said. "I don't blame the locals for wanting more profit, but I wonder if they've shot themselves in the foot," Humper added.

Other tourists have taken to social media to express their gripes, especially about what they see as over-inflated prices. "For those with white skin, the prices are doubled, even tripled. I doubt I will return; rather look at Southeast Asia," one disgruntled traveller posted on Facebook. Lower taxes in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as their more liberal visa policies, are poaching tourists, said Savio Messias of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) that the federal government introduced in 2017 has made room tariffs uncompetitive, Messias said. High petrol costs and spiking taxi fares were cited as other contributing factors. He took issue with the government's "lopsided policies," and said that Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar has not met with other stakeholders, since he took charge of the ministry in March 2017.