I recently posted to several Goa Facebook groups asking people’s views on how they perceive the future of international tourism in Goa, and in particularly – China. Yes, you read this correctly, China.
The Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) recently stated their intention to look towards China, to increase tourism in the state. With the Goa tourism industry now facing the biggest challenge in its 50+ year history, due to plummeting footfalls, and now exacerbated by COVID-19 pandemic; does the GTDC have the right idea by encouraging Chinese visitors?
I was somewhat unprepared for the answers I got back. I have to say, I was expecting a deluge of racist negativity, of course, fuelled by the pandemic of COVID-19, but the negativity I was bracing myself for – didn’t materialise.
I will summarise the general response below. However, the burning question for me was, regarding tourism from China:
So, is Goa suitable for Chinese tourists?
I have to say, 95% of the responses I received to my social media request were not at all racist, but were more akin to expressing concern over the general suitability of Goa for Chinese visitors.
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Many of the replies referred to the lack of infrastructure, garbage, and lack of glitzy shopping malls, etc. All of these aforementioned things need to be addressed, in order to attract Chinese visitors in any meaningful numbers. In fact, some of these issues have been to the disdain of British tourists for many years.
One of the responders to my social media post, ‘Jojo Simons’ replied: “Lots of Chinese tourists are in Thailand and Sri Lanka. Young, happy, not into shopping. They enjoy all the same things we do.”
So there does seem to be market for Chinese visitors, outside of the 5-star hotels, and glitzy shopping malls. But perhaps this will be just confined to the younger generation? My feeling is this will probably be the case.
Another one of my contributors, ‘Conrad D’Costa’, a food and travel blogger from Vagator, added: “I’ve seen a lot of Chinese tourists and it makes me wonder if we should target this specific market…having said that, we need to develop better infrastructure, because, besides beaches and parties, we need to develop more activity related stuff/amenities/entertainment zones, like how Dubai has been able to do, in spite of its harsh climate. The recent pandemic will, of course, be another concern for the local Goans, and we will have to wait and watch the situation.”
What I have taken from this, upon reading the many welcome replies to my enquiries is: Most of my contributors (Goans, Indians and Western tourists alike) do NOT want Goa striving to be a ‘high-end’ destination, and thus losing its charm. And most of them happen to agree that the market for Chinese tourism in Goa is very limited. But I personally think there’s still no harm in encouraging the younger generation here, who will appreciate the beach life and culture. The Chinese tourist, like any other, will continue to carefully research what they want on a holiday, and take from Goa what appeals to them.
I would also like to add: My personal feeling is, with the never-ending issues of infrastructure, garbage, and the like…these problems need to be tackled RIGHT NOW. No more empty talk, no more excuses. Never has there been a more important time to seize the opportunity – and give tourism in Goa a bright and prosperous future.
If you found this article interesting and would like to comment, please feel free.
Perhaps you know of more suitable countries that the Goa Tourism Development Corporation should be targeting? I would love to hear your suggestions, and I plan to present this article, with its findings and responses, to GTDC in due course.