No independence from an expensive long weekend
A long weekend in Goa brings good news and bad news. The tourists have all the reasons to enjoy their small vacation, but the locals have to bear with traffic jams, especially along the northern beach belt, and inflated rates for inter-state travel. Café explores
Goa has stepped into yet another long weekend, and akin to the trend on most long weekends, the airfares to Goa have skyrocketed, the accommodation options along the Northern beach belt have experienced a surge in the bookings, and the two-wheeler rentals are happy to have their cash registers ringing, yet again. The tourism business in the state has got a shot in the arm and while the tourists are raising a toast to celebrate the good life, some locals can’t help but feel cheated. Every long weekend in Goa brings with it a paradox of sorts. It is great for tourists who don’t mind spending a few extra bucks to relieve themselves from their mundane, stressful lives in the metros - the cheap alcohol more than makes up for the loss, anyway. But for the locals, it is yet another occasion to be fleeced and there’s no escape from it, regardless of how genuine the situation is. Abhijeet Desai, an entrepreneur from Margao, learnt this the hard way when he had to return from a business meeting in Mumbai, on Friday. Abhijeet says, “The cheapest flight to Goa was for Rs 12,000, which is almost three times the usual damages. And let’s not even get started on the unregulated taxi system in Goa. If not for time constraints, the only economical option for locals returning home is to drive the long distance.” But not everything about the situation is sad. The otherwise semi-parched travel and hospitality industry has all the reasons to rejoice with the heavy influx of tourists. And with most of the stakeholders of the industry hailing from the state, long weekends are a reason to smile. Gregory Fernandes, owner of a beach house in Baga, says, “We are running to a full occupancy till August 15. We received bookings as early as around the last week of July. A major chunk of tourists who hadn’t planned their short vacation well in advance are now trying to make-do with whatever options they have in order to have a roof over their heads.” To make the most of the opportunity, a few music events have also been strategically planned along the dates of the long weekend. Satellite Beachside, an EDM festival conceptualised by Shailesh Shetty and Pearl Miglani last year, is back in its second edition and the four-day extravaganza that began on Friday will stretch itself till Monday, August 14. Apart from the local DJs performing at the festival alongside artistes from all across India, local businesses around Waters Beach Lounge & Grill – the venue of the festival, are set to benefit from the influx of music lovers. Nikhil Chinapa, one of the key persons behind the festival, says, “The event is very well attended by fans from across India. Several friends have made specific plans to be in Goa for this weekend because of Satellite Beachside. With regard to the impact on local businesses, I’m not aware of the exact numbers but I know that rooms seem to be sold out at many hotels across Anjuna and Vagator.” So if you’re a local running a hospitality business in Goa, or a tourist looking to have a good time, this long weekend is just the right time to celebrate before things get busier in the peak season. For everyone else not game for a slightly heavier strain on their wallets, staying indoors is the most economical option out there.
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