The moment one alights out of a flight or a train in Goa, a tourist meets the first ambassador of the state – the taxi driver. The excitement of reaching Goa with family members, doused the moment the demand comes from a taxi driver on the tariff which could be greater than the amount spent on tickets while travelling in to Goa.
Today, an air ticket from Mumbai to Goa, if planned and booked early, can even cost as low as Rs 1500 but a taxi from Dabolim airport to Baga beach can cost no less than Rs 2000. This attitude has been one of the deterrent factors which have led to the fall in the footfalls of tourists visiting Goa. High cost of living in hotels and travelling by taxi is now being seen as fleecing of their hard-earned money for a well-deserved holiday. Indian tourists are now looking at visiting foreign countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Vietnam etc where they find their holiday as value destinations and much cheaper than Goa.
Yet another self made “law” by the taxi associations for a guest of any hotel is that they will have to hire or book a taxi which is aligned to that particular hotel and no “outside” taxi will not be allowed to ferry them. A tourist who has no choice despite making the double payment would never even think of such “laws” prevalent in any part of the world. Uniquely, Goa is the only place on this planet where a tourist has to pay the taxi driver for a round trip both ways, even if one is taking a single ride.
No meter, no apps it is just by word of mouth that the deal of tariff is struck between the taxi driver and the commuter. This negotiation is not necessarily a pleasing experience for both parties as a tourist cannot comprehend the logic of taxi belonging to North or South Goa and he has to pay the return fare even if he not coming back to the hotel in the same taxi.
Since there are no Ola or Uber services in Goa, the Tourism Department did come out with a solution by launch of Goa Miles app in August last year which never had any rates/tariff mentioned after booking of Goa Miles taxi. Since many of the tourists have travelled all over the country and abroad and having used services of Ola and Uber, they find this app very amusing and not worthy. Netizens took no time to criticise in various blogs and social media that the app had many flaws and the information given was not apt and satisfactory and most important, the tariff still remains “high”.
In an age where people are now used to apps for various services, including food or even vegetable and fruits home delivery, it is unfathomable to see that Goa taxi operators are not willing to accept any meter or apps for their taxi. Many of them are happy to have one client for a day rather than getting more than two or three clients a day through an app.
It is a warning bell for a tourist state of Goa as we are witnessing a considerable drop in the international and domestic tourist footfalls. What is required is better competition, regulation, technology to open the market which could bring down the price/tariff for a customer and at the same time enhance the business of the taxi operators. Since the unions of the taxi operators are strong and cohesive it is even difficult for the State government and it’s supporting agencies to resolve this imbroglio and bring in a solution to this menace. Have we killed the golden goose too soon?