20 Aug 2017  |   05:15am IST

Will stopping nightlife really stop drugs?

And another two young tourists died of a "drug overdose" in Goa on the Independence weekend and its hit the headlines like a fire, largely thanks to our government making a mountain of a mole in trying to be moral police.

By Lyndon Alves

And another two young tourists died of a "drug overdose" in Goa on the Independence weekend and its hit the headlines like a fire, largely thanks to our government making a mountain of a mole in trying to be moral police. Knee jerk reactions like stopping all nightlife for the thousands of tourists who have looked forward to this weekend in Goa to have a good time, is not good for the state.

 Goa is a tourist destination, with a miniscule percentage of tourists who experiment with drugs, as is the case with almost every tourist destination or bustling metro in the world from Monte Carlo to Ibiza. People die of overdrinking, road-rage and other reasons including overdose of drugs.  Brash reactions like closing all nightlife in a destination, could only be termed as silly and derived from lack of knowledge or any idea of the realities. Such unpleasant incidents occur all over the globe, but nowhere in the world does an entire tourist zone have to be closed down due to a drug or alcohol deaths. We have more murders a week than drug mishaps in a year! Even if drugs were not available, people would still visit the clubs and its not fair to make an entire segment suffer.  An entire segment of high end domestic tourists cannot be deprived due to a couple of irresponsible youngsters.

 Whilst its easy to blame the police, the fact remains that prostitution and the drug menace can never be stopped and at the most only controlled. Drug trade is one of the most lucrative globally and has historically had entire government machineries involved in the success of this trade, even in countries like the Americas! Our country whose population has been incubated since independence with Darwin’s theory of ‘Survival of the fittest” can be no exception to the rule! Even the highly paid DEA of the USA has not been able to curb this menace which only grows in volume annually, so our government trumpeting that Goa will be made a drug free state, is a baseless comment and is not really possible in a democracy! Yes, lets all join hands and curb this menace. Drugs exist even in countries with the death penalty. We should first try and make our state garbage-free, to which there exists no opposition. If you don’t give your populace ample opportunity to make a living, illicit business becomes an easy alternative. Its ultimately all about demand & supply and that’s what keeps the world turning.

Before we boast of a drug-free Goa, we need to realize a simple concept of what you offer your guests is what kind of tourists you will attract. It should be embarrassing to even think that a fairly large segment of tourists believe that drugs is one of Goa’s biggest attractions. We have nothing in the state that stands out as a family attraction. Our unstructured laws do not give us a nightlife to even boast about in the international markets for the upmarket young traveller, so we end up with low budget youngsters in the age-group that allows cheap experiments with life. Our Marina has turned into a Mirage. Without the right offering, we will never find the right tourists and we have little besides the free sun & sand for which we have enough of competition without the hassles of garbage, CRZ, taxies and high taxes.

Without nightlife, there’s a whole section of tourism related businesses that will die and we have little alternatives to offer our people, other than buying more taxi’s and adding to an already existing problem.

Prostitution on the other hand is synonymous with mankind, whilst one reads of the great job being done by the police in arresting this problem, one tends to wonder what would happen in the state on the rape front had this business not existed. Tourism, which is our biggest revenue earner, is a tricky business and can be only managed with the right minds involved. If the government is so nervous about permitting a qualified tourism board, we are only fooling ourselves and bringing in both a bad name and poor quality tourists whose attraction would remain cheap thrills. That’s where we seem to be heading when one compares figures of Goa to any other long-existing beach destination of the same size as Goa. Knee jerk reactions and tall claims happen largely due to lack of knowledge and with the refusal of the government to take the industry into confidence, we’re only heading south.

The party will go on and the last beneficiary will be the state of Goa and ultimately its people. Tourists will get filtered purely based on offering and price, the choice is theirs, the offering is ours!

(Lyndon Alves is a veteran stakeholder of the tourism and nightlife industry and an entrepreneur in the travel trade in Goa)

(In addition to the normal disclaimer, Herald would like to reiterate that these are the views in the article are those of the writer and Herald does not necessarily support them by publishing the article. This is a page where diverse views are given space to encourage further debate and critique)


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