IS Goa losing its popularity as one of the best tourism destination in the world? The most important CONCERN WHICH needS to be ADDRESSED With the inflow of around 4 million tourists into this tiny beautiful state AND HALF THE POPULATION (APPROX 2 MILLION) the popularity of once considers to be the most romantic destination is now under threat. Goa occupies hardly 1% of India’s landmass but yet the charm of GOA and hospitable nature of its local inhabitants draws HUGE NUMBERS OF tourists to enjoy the sheer beauty of this place.

Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for over four centuries and as a result of that, the custom and culture of this tiny state has the deep impact of western influence. This makes the tiny state equally popular amongst the Indian as well as foreigners. The huge volume of tourists pours down to Goa because of its natural beauty and the highly hospitable people. Goa has long been seen as an ideal holiday destination spot. But then why does this most sought after holiday destination is losing its popularity is the most important question before all the major stakeholders of the tourism industry in Goa.

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According to the Claude Alvares, one of the well-known environmentalists and social worker of Goa, nothing good has been done by the government of Goa to maintain the beauty and integrity of this tiny state. According to him, everything has come from the handwork of a community expert in the maintenance of rice fields, paddies, khazan systems, and a low intensive lifestyle that is underscored by the spirit of susegad  (taking it easy) one of the key components of a tourist industry. “The result of these efforts over decades is that the Goa region looks like a painting and the local artists who created it have really never bothered about how many people came to see it and enjoy it,” states Mr. Alvares in one of his articles in NDTV 

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Mr. Alvares feels that the government of Goa has remained unimpressed. Over the years, it has tried zealously not to build on those assets, but to grind them to dust. Not surprising, every single project conceived by the government or by companies or compradors have chewed up some part of Goa or another. The forests have been assaulted by mining, led by Vedanta, headquartered in England. But almost every 5-star hotel on the beach has been put up by operators and chains from outside the state. Each has taken down parts of the pristine beach system and crammed it with their imported fantasias in concrete, disdainful of local architectural designs.

Based on the article originally written in the French News Media Le Monde and subsequently published in the English language in The Guardian Before managing the Barracuda diving club in Goa’s Sun Village resort, Venkatesh Charloo worked on a trading desk in a Hong Kong bank. After watching a Cousteau film he decided to quit the world of finance and get into deep sea diving. Now, 15 years later, he is very angry. “The islands of Goa are covered in garbage, and there are fewer and fewer fish.” Part of his job is to clean up diving sites at the beginning of the tourist season. Goa survived four centuries of Portuguese colonization and an influx of hippies in the 1960s, but today it is threatened by mass tourism. More than 4 million tourists visit this small state in southwest India every year, twice as many as 10 years ago, with a local population of just 2 million. National Geographic has ranked Goa’s beaches among the worst in the world.

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THE PROBLEMS

According to the sources, the degradation process of Goan beaches started back in the last few decades. The report published by the NIO claimed that levels of potentially dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella, rose sharply between 2002 and 2007. The report, published in July 2010 in the journal Ecological Indicators, concluded that increasingly strong concentrations of faecal coliform and other pathogenic bacteria in the coastal waters were a threat to the environment as well as to human health. In some places, swimming could lead to disease. At the mouth of the Mandovi river, currents sweep sewage down from the hotels, along with residue from pesticides used by the farmers of the country, and the sediment from nearby mines. Underwater visibility has been considerably reduced. “You can’t see further than your own nose now,” said Ajay Patil, a deep-sea diving instructor.

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The cows lying on the sand under the parasols is a usual scene. They are, after all, considered to be sacred, and allowed by virtue but beer bottles and plastic bags littered on most of the beaches gives a real horrible look to the pristine beaches of Goa. The department of tourism trying hard to make Goa’s reputation as a romantic destination which is being advertised across the national and international media appeal the travellers to come with their wives and girlfriend again. Environmental activists condemn the apathy of the local authorities. “The government wants to build a five-star hotel along every mile, but it can’t even build wastewater treatment plants,” said Claude Alvares director of an environmental action group, Goa Foundation.

The construction of more than 2,600 hotels has also destroyed the khazans, an ancient network of dykes and wetlands that drew off sea water when levels rose too high and protected the land from flooding. Another form of pollution, not seen on the beaches, is household refuse. A few kilometers inland, plastic waste floats on monsoon-flooded fields and mounds of garbage are stacked up along the roads. “It’s difficult to find available land to set up a waste processing plant,” quoted by Mr. Swapnil Naik, who was the director of state tourism department then. The sarpanch, or village mayors, complain about being landed with the problem. “They consider it a degrading task, not suited to their status,” said a local, who does the rounds at night to prevent people from throwing garbage on his village’s land.

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Goa and Goans need to understand one thing that, it is not easy to attract only high-end tourists to the state all the time as most of the tourists coming to the coastal state are the backpackers. although recently large numbers of Russian and east European tourists have been arriving on charter flights, and restaurant menus are now translated into Russian and Goa Tourism department had a plans of building the golf courses and amusement parks to attract a superior clientele and the same was quoted by the then director of state tourism department Mr. Swapnil Naik.

THE SOLUTION

The best solution according to the sources would be, to relieve the pressure on the beaches by developing inland tourism during the off-season in the monsoon. Goa has a fascinating architectural heritage from its Portuguese colonisers and has many less-known sites of natural beauty, such as waterfalls deep in the forests. Villagers can now get subsidies for opening small hotels in these new tourist destinations. It may be recalled that when Mr. Swapnil Naik was the Director of Tourism he had proposed the development of inland waterways and by now few things have put back into the place but still not to the expectations. Although Mr. Alvares do not agree to this since according to him, The government’s idea of development is to open ever more hotels, for more tourists and more money, but at this rate, we’re heading straight into the wall. According to Mr. Alvares who is quite nostalgic for the 1960s. “At least the hippies were environmentally friendly.”

SOURCE: VARIOUS SOURCES | IMAGE SOURCE

NOTE: The information in this article has been compiled from the various sources and all the quotes have kept untouched to retain the ingredients of the subject. In case you have any additional information or you find any lapses please to write to the editor on [email protected]   

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