His instructions to the traffic and security personnel were to be cordial while interacting with the visitors to the State. Apparently this request of the Chief Minister has not been complied with as a minister in his government, Michael Lobo, has now gone to the Chief Minister with the complaint that tourists are being harassed by the traffic police by being made to stop various times on the pretext of checking for documents. The minister wants a smooth ride for the tourists when they are in Goa, and that is something that the tourism bodies in the State will not object to.
What is interesting is that in December 2019, to avoid exactly this kind of harassment the Chief Minister had proposed that the State would soon have a new policy, whereby outstation vehicles entering Goa would be checked at the border for all documentation, and if the papers were found to be in order, there would be a sticker pasted on the vehicle which would be valid for the duration of the trip. This sticker would give the tourists a clear passage through the State during the duration of their stay. This was essentially meant to avoid tourist vehicles, or vehicles registered outside Goa, being stopped on the Goan roads by the police and the transport authorities for document inspection.
This proposal had got nationwide coverage, but now, 21 months later the subject of harassment of tourists by the police arises again, which clearly indicates that the sticker proposal has remained at the proposal stage and was never taken forward. Goa as a prime tourism destination cannot afford to send wrong signals to the tourists. If the government wants tourism to play a major role in the State it should ensure that the tourists have a pleasant time in the State.
Tourism is all about having the best time possible on a holiday, so tourists wouldn’t take it kindly to being stopped on the road by the authorities on the pretext of the documents being checked. Yet, if the tourists are found to be breaking the traffic rules, then surely they should not be permitted to go free. In that case the police must act. What is being sought, that tourists are not harassed is but a very small measure that will go a long way in boosting the image of Goa appreciably. The police are not being asked to be lenient towards those who are breaking the rules. The request is don’t trouble those who are following the rules by stopping them and asking for documents.
Goa is coming to the start of a new tourism season and various entertainment places have been permitted to reopen after having been closed due to pandemic measures. The season ahead is going to be crucial for the State as the industry will be looking to recoup the losses of the past year. So, as it opens for tourism again after a hiatus due to the pandemic restrictions – but during which tourists did visit the State and continue to do so – the government has to put in place measures to make the stay of the tourists comfortable.
That is one part of making the stay comfortable. The other is smoothening the current bumpy ride that the tourists and the people of Goa get on the roads. The gaping potholes that have appeared on almost every road have to be cleared as quickly as possible. That is also part of making the stay pleasant for the people. Very simply, the host State has to make it better for its visitors.