Tourists drive down clogged streets and fill up the beaches to ring in 2018; Domestic travellers far outnumber foreign visitors
PANJIM: It was still early on Saturday evening, the sun quite high in the sky, but Miramar beach was awash with tourists sneaking a selfie or just milling around. Snatches of conversation picked up, as groups of tourists interacted with each other discussing other beaches, indicated that the scene was the same at the other tourist spots.
With the New Year just hours away, several thousand domestic tourists have descended upon Goa, most of them driving in, resulting in a surge of outstation vehicles, leading to traffic jams, especially along the coastal belt, that has turned into one big party zone.
“There are many MH (Maharahstra), KA (Karnataka), GJ (Gujarat), JH (Jharkhand), UK (Uttrakhand) registered vehicles in the State,” said a Tourism official seeking anonymity. While everyone agrees that there is a surge in the number of vehicles, there is no data on the total number of outstation vehicles that drive into the State, particularly during the peak season.
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa president Savio Messias has called for a serious thought over this saying, “There is no system in place to record the exact number of outstation vehicles entering and exiting Goa. The government figures are not accurate. Government needs to seriously think over this.”
Most of the vehicles can be seen on the narrow road of the populated coastal stretches, as the number of Indian tourists far exceeds foreigners on beaches, in shacks, at clubs and other popular tourist hubs. “The domestic tourists are in good number, however, there is no increase in foreign tourists from Russia, UK, and other countries,” Shack Owners’ Welfare Society president Cruz Cardozo told Herald.
On the other hand, Vikram Varma, legal counsel for the Russian Consulate in Mumbai, said that around 30,000 to 40,000 Russians would be celebrating New Year in Goa and their numbers will increase in the days to come. Some Russians will then return to celebrate their Christmas on January 6 and New Year on January 9 in their country. He said around 1.4 lakh Russians are expected to visit Goa during this tourist season.
As parties have begun on the beaches, the law enforcement agencies and state administration have geared up to meet the rush, with the North Goa Traffic Police chalking out a systematic plan to handle traffic snarls.
Some roads along the Calangute, Baga and Anjuna stretch have been converted to one-way for a day on December 31, Deputy Superintendent of Police Dharmesh Angle said. Foreseeing increased traffic, the Traffic Department has also created additional parking spaces. “We expect bumper-to-bumper traffic and are expecting a large crowd of tourists and locals on December 31. To tackle the situation, we have created additional parking spaces and increased staff strength at various points,” he told Herald.
Conceding that there is a huge number of outstation vehicles during the week, Angle stated that the traffic plan has been uploaded on their website for reference. “We urge people to follow traffic rules and avoid over speeding and overtaking,” the officer added.
The district police have also upped security across the entire district to avoid any untoward incident and ensure law and order is maintained.