18 Nov 2017 04:30am IST
Joao Barros Pereira
Dark clouds are gathering over Goa's tourism skies. With the Internet bringing good and bad news, and taking it around the world in less time than a Goan can finish his choris-pao, it is indeed a cautionary tale.
Over the last few years Goa appears to have been a naughty boy or maybe this is the way our government likes to see it. Unfortunately, the world beyond Goa and India's borders are less inclined to put it down to juvenile behavior. Maybe they are less forgiving than we are of our wayward behavior.
Over the years news of rapes and deaths caused by overdosing on drugs have not in any way helped to upgrade Goa's steadily plummeting reputation on the international scene. That Goa is voted as a state which is safest for women in India is a citation with a double edge sword.
At EDM festivals in Goa there have been drug-related deaths. While the government wants to continue promoting these festivals, it can only do so in a spirit of gambling, with Goa's tourism reputation up for grabs. Is this wise?
As I wrote earlier, dark clouds are gathering over Goa's tourism skies, and particularly, over the shacks on Goa's tourists beaches even though the monsoon is long gone. Governments abroad have cautioned tourists from their countries about personal safety. Against this background music the hotels in coastal Goa have added their lyrics to the hit song by advising their 5-star tourists to go to the beach and return directly to the hotel without going off the beaten track, so to speak. Some tourists no doubt feel at home in the friendly and cheerful shacks and have let the cat go free of the bag. The hotels have been telling tourists to visit a shack is a step in the wrong direction.
The bad reputation Goa enjoys today is a major obstacle to shacks doing a good seasonal business. A lot of starred hotels have high occupancy at present but the trickle-down-effect is not to be seen in the shacks. What does the government intend to do about this problem?
The government has been promoting mega drug-related events, pretending it is innocent fun, but the government can no longer bury its head in the sand. No way can the government deny its contribution to the decaying reputation of Goa's tourism industry. Does the government believe it cannot get worse?
Now people are worried tourism in future will take on a coal-hue, green covered by black. Will 5-star and other hotels also be affected by the coal dust? If so, it might be good news for the pro-good-health anti-coal lobby as they might get support from an unlikely sector.
Environmentalists want to stop the extraction and transportation of coal as it is a danger to the environment. If they succeed then the red-hot issue of coal pollution will cool off and come to an end. We, however, will have to wait and see.
Is Goa dying? Will the government's unquenchable thirst for unsustainable development destroy Goa which at a point in time was described as the Pearl of the Orient?