Economy looking down the barrel after mining closure tourism takes a beating; During peak season average hotel occupancy just 40 to 50 per cent; Stakeholders blame high airfares, GST, Excise taxes and also discrimination against Indian tourists for drop
PANJIM: Even as the State is yet to settle the mining closure crisis, another industry of Goa, which has been hit badly this season, is tourism.
It’s the time of the year here in Goa when the hotels were totally booked and tourists use to spend nights in their vehicles at many places due to unavailability of rooms.
Today, the situation is totally opposite; there are plenty of rooms available and no tourists.
Is Goa’s economy looking down the barrel with mining closure and tourism at an all-time low?
Hotels in Calangute have reported just 20 per cent occupancy and the foreign tourist arrivals have decreased by about 55 per cent.
One can easily see the decline in tourist arrivals simply by clicking the only travel websites which today are showing lowest airfares or hotel rates compared to 10 days back.
On makemytrip.com website the Mumbai to Goa ticket was available for as low as Rs 3,100 on December 31.
Whereas, Volvo bus ticket from Mumbai to Goa on December 30 was just Rs 700.
TTAG president Savio Messias attributes various factors to the drop in tourist arrivals.
“There are number of reasons I feel, Goa has out-priced itself. The taxation like GST, Excise is gone up, the behaviour towards the tourists has been rude, taxis are overcharging,” said Messias speaking to Herald.
Messias said the airfares and hotel rates were also too high and have been reduced now due to low demand.
“People in places like Calangute have complained that occupancy has just been 40 per cent,” he said.
Messias also blamed the infrastructure works in both North and South Goa as a dampener to the tourists.
“With social media everybody now knows they would be stuck at Cortalim junction or Panjim junction and tourists who come here for just one or two days do not want to get stuck in traffic,” he said.
Besides, Messias also blamed the Tourism Department for lacking marketing strategy.
“There is no marketing strategy and Tourism Minister is not concerned about the situation,” he said.
Ricardo Joseph De Souza, partner at Tito’s nightclub, Baga, also feels there are various reasons including discrimination against Indian tourists.
“Many a time I see comments on social media which discriminates against the domestic tourists. They have now started feeling unwanted here,” Ricardo said.
He stated that Goa being a tourist State every tourist must be treated equally.
“At least the good tourists need to be treated nicely as I may tell you the Indian tourists spend more than anybody else, I guess,” he said.
In Tito’s lane, the most happening place in Baga, Ricardo says the footfall has dropped significantly.
John Lobo, Secretary of All Goa Shack Owners Welfare Society, says “It did not look like a Christmas Weekend this year.”
“Last night there were no tourists on the beach after 11 pm. Normally, during this weekend up to 2 or 3 am the beach was full,” he said.
Lobo blamed various factors for the drop in tourists like GST and airfares.
“The beggars, the lamanis, hawkers and loud music are driving away tourists,” he said adding “the drop has been more than 50 per cent”.