In the 1970s, as the hippies started visiting the State, Goa was tagged as an international tourist destination. With its pristine beaches, clear sands, green fields, and casual laid back atmosphere, it was a haven for those coming from abroad. As the years went by, with its tag of an International Tourism Destination, more and more tourists started visiting the State, to experience a slice of life in Goa.
But in the year 2018, the state witnessed a consistent drop in arrivals of foreign tourists and an increase in the number of domestic tourists visiting the State. This led to the revelation that Goa was losing its shine as an international tourism destination.
As per sources at Times of India, the year 2018 saw an annual increase of about 25-30% in domestic arrivals and a decline in international footfalls.
Recently the Travel & Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) stated that although there was an increase in domestic arrivals, it did nothing to curb a drop in average room rates and occupancies across Goa, leading to a conclusion that there was a drop in quality of domestic tourism.
Statistics revealed that in the year 2018-19, there was a decrease in Russian charter flights and 62,000 fewer Russian tourists visited the State, as compared to 2017-18.
Tourism secretary J. Ashok Kumar while confirming the decline in foreign arrivals said it was not possible to give the exact drop in figures as country-wise figures are still being compiled.
Much as the increase in domestic tourism has benefitted the locals in the coastal areas, by way of employment opportunities, the upsurge has remained unregulated and unchecked, thus increasing the probability of troubles in the near future.
The former President of TTAG, Francisco Braganza said, “Domestic tourism happened after Goa was established as an International Tourism Destination and like any other favored destination in the country, it is turning to be like other crowded places and is fast losing its charm.”
Once the favorite among foreign tourists, the coastal belt in the North, comprising of Calangute, Baga, Candolim, are today overcrowded and shunned by foreign tourists.
Atish Fernandes, director of First Class Holidays stated that an overdependence on the domestic market will erode Brand Goa, as a mixed market of both, foreign and domestic, is needed to make a destination pulsating and lively.
During the weekends and holidays, the arrival of domestic tourists is at its height. The problem lies with the arrivals of domestic tourists, who come with their own private vehicles and litter the place.
Braganca said that the unchecked growth of domestic tourists is in a way responsible for some of the problems faced by the state today. There is an increase in traffic jams and the sight of garbage everywhere points to the fact that Goa has exceeded its carrying capacity.
TTAG President, Savio Messias said “We hope the government steps in to stop further negative growth in the International segment”
Fernandes suggested ways to tackle the situation like key infrastructure issues such as garbage, feasible transport options, and parking facilities.
While the Government is yet to figure out how to control this unprecedented growing domestic segment, some in the government are yet to realize the gravity of the situation.
A boutique owner stated that he was tired of hearing how overcrowded and filthy the coastal belt in Goa is, and it was high time the government took up the responsibility of creating facilities for domestic tourists with a limited budget.
Strict action is needed on those littering the place and creating a nuisance. A couple of months ago, the Government had come up with legislation to penalize those drinking and creating a nuisance on the beaches, but it is yet to be implemented.
Much as one can’t blame the tourists for what is happening in Goa, it is a fact that the situation is spiraling out of control.
No one is asking that Goa shuts its doors to domestic tourists and become discriminatory.
If the situation is not brought under control, Goa will turn like any other hill station, overcrowded and filthy thus losing its tag of an international tourism destination.