Dr Joe D’Souza
Now that we are in the peak of the tourism season and still under lockdown, it will be problematic for Goans to cash on the tourism policy, which has just been announced.
In Goa, tourism is not just a leisure activity but a full-fledged industry on which nearly 40% of Goans consider it as a sole source of income or an ancillary source of livelihood.
During the colonial era, agriculture was the primary sector of our economy and sustained over 85% of the Goan economy. The equation rapidly changed as mining dust and rejected ores were dumped onto agriculture fields and verdant hills were ravaged and plundered to make way for mineral extraction. Through the 80’s up to 2012, the hinterland Goa saw degraded forests, abandoned mining pits and ravaged fields. Not only were the agricultural fields, reclaimed and transformed into concrete jungles but also our orchards, horticultural farms, floriculture, vegetables and fruits like watermelons, mangoes, bananas, guavas and wild berries were devastated to romp up mini, small, medium and large hotel complexes.
Needless for me to dish out statistics centred around several thousands of four bedroom boarding and lodging units to mega seven-starred hotels adorning the entire 105-km coast line from Tiracol up to the far reaches of the southernmost taluka of Canacona.
In the process of making “fast buck” through the fragile tertiary sector of economy, through healthy leisure and entertainment activities the hospitality lost its plot. The politicians in power ventured into international tourism marts trade shows and festivals and ushered into Goa, low budget, back-pack tourists instead of high spending guests from the USA, Germany, the UK and Europe in general. Goa became a victim of charter tourism from Russia, the Balkan states, Turkey, the average low-budget guests from east European countries and shrinking economies of West Asia, who preferred to settle into golden Goa to avoid the violence and the wars in their part of the world.
Thus, by the early 90’s, Goa was the home for the international drug peddling industry; the mafia were so organized that locals from Anjuna, Vagator and Chapora were lured into the drug peddling trade and the organization of EDM festivals. It was too much of a stress not only for law abiding villagers but also for Mother Nature too. Whilst casinos kept polluting and destroying River Mandovi and the ambience around Panjim, late night drug parties was systematically destroying the wholesome lives and livelihoods as well as human resources, which the Prime Minister emphasized as “human resource – dividend” of young Goans, today laced by drugs.
On World Tourism Day, would our directionless government wake up to the realities of COVID-19 and immediately correct itself to make Goan tourism industry healthy and sustainable? An industry, which has reached its nadir in early 2020, is now beyond local government control.
Herald, the voice of Goa, had decried a few days ago, about criminals taking shelter in Goa, would adversely affect tourism in Goa. To add to the tourism woes the “sloppy operation procedures” adopted by the Goa Government is also affording tourism a bad name.
As a microbiologist and with intensive professional experience, I must assert if we need to usher in salubrious tourism into Goa, we will never be able to achieve eradicating COVID-19 from our ecosystem by passive quarantine practices of Goans and forcing the tourists to wear masks or fine them as they come to Goa to breathe fresh clean air from our beaches and harness Vitamin D from the tropical October sunlight, which we know positively that Goan sunlight, carbon dioxide free Goan atmosphere, Goan fish, green vegetables, spices, juices of pineapple and papaya slices are the best nutrients to contain viruses and boost our immunity system provided to us by Mother Nature. Those Goans, keeping in touch with my essays and in Herald particularly, have understood that nature’s vaccines and the need to know and exploit the goodness of human immunological responses.
The number of rising COVID-19 cases in Goa is entirely due to faulty SOP dictated by the government of Goa. Abrupt lockdowns, quarantining under fear psychosis, avoiding fresh clean Goan air and sunlight and avoiding fresh fruits, vegetables fish and meat by avoiding daily purchases of groceries will kill both locals and their livelihood as no tourist would want to visit Goa to face the prospects of paying fines and quarantining one selves in locked room.
One important message for hotel owners of Goa, who had their rooms empty and air-conditioners shut down for the last 6 months is that the secondary infections of Legionella species, does not infect the visiting tourists from biofouling which has taken place in the cooling systems and the humidifiers of their air-conditioners.
The government of Goa must ensure that anxiety due to loneliness and isolation of senior citizens who have invested their savings in the building of hotel rooms and services is ably supported by providing the services of sanitary engineers and health personnel in every hotel in Goa to ensure that the Goan economy which is down by over seventy per cent due to faulty programmes of those in power is not allowed to move further on leading to economic crash, bad loans, unemployment starvation deaths, suicides and crimes and doom of our people.
In my previous articles for Herald, I had clearly explained that the Covid-19 and the corona viruses must be tackled by a proactive aggressive approach by boosting our sophisticated immunity responsible for protecting us.
One cannot be a good cricketer by watching television replays but by facing the bowling head on by the proactive approach on the field.
This simple logic and rationale must be applied to our immunity system as well. The captains of industry must counter and tackle the COVID-19 attack head on by ensuring our tourists and the staff working at their hotels are free of fear, stress and loneliness, complemented with the goodness of Goan food, healthy entertainment and richness of Goan atmosphere, rich in Vitamin C, D, A, B along with essential minerals, like potassium in our coconut water, phosphorus in fish and iron in meats and vitamins in our fruits, vegetables. Long live healthy tourism in Goa.