BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Bungee jumping and boat rides are two activities at the Mayem Lake in Bicholim that have been able to draw tourists, while the seventeen air-conditioned rooms operated by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) have no takers as the government attempts to boost hinterland tourism in Goa.
The rooms have occupancy around December, whereas bungee jumping and boat rides conducted on the lake see a lot of interest, with the former shutting shop for monsoon on June 15 and the latter on June 11.
“We have a lot of local people coming to stay over for parties but have not managed to attract tourists,” stated a member of GTDC.
“We have been operating for the last four years and have been doing well. Though we did see a thirty per cent decline this season,” admitted Suresh Katoch, the general manager of Jumpin Heights, the company that operates bungee jumping.
Jumpin Heights charges Rs 4850 per bungee jump, and on a good day, has around seventy individuals ready to take the plunge to get that adrenaline rush.
“The idea of coming to Goa was to bring a different adventure to Goa, where one feels adrenaline going through one’s blood. This challenges one’s guts,” thinks Suresh, as the disciplinarian in him stands out.
“There are a lot of youth from Mumbai, Karnataka, Hyderabad, Pune and even New Delhi who come down. We have girls and boys from the IT, medical, engineering – actually all sectors – who come to get a high by trying this jump,” avers Suresh, who also claims his company has a bigger and better set-up in Rishikesh.
“We have had more than one and a half lakh people taking these jumps since we started in Rishikesh and zero accidents. This is the emphasis we lay on safety and that is why we follow the safety standards set in New Zealand and Australia,” maintains Suresh.
“We have seen a decline in Indian tourists coming this season. It has not been very encouraging as compared to the last, and that could be because many prefer visiting South Asia. Coming to Goa and visiting Bangkok almost costs the same today,” reasons Suresh.
Mayem Lake has been artistically frilled by the Department of Tourism in its attempt to draw tourists to a naturally landscaped Goa, but the figures do not add up, because the beaches are Goa’s main draw.
“There are better lakes and better boat ride facilities in other states of India. I am too scared to try bungee jumping, but Goa is definitely the place for its beaches and the lifestyle around them,” opines Struta, as she and her friends watch and finish their boat rides.
“We hardly get about one per cent of foreign tourists coming to take these jumps and Goans are even fewer. I think Goans are not challenge seekers. They may be comfortable going underwater but not on top,” says Suresh with a broad smile.
“Bungee jumping has not been started just to make money but to give thrills to our customers. Ankle and body harness are attached to all jumpers and two foreign jump masters assist all,” informed Suresh, who also claims that bungee jumping is stopped during the monsoons to avoid lightning strikes.
The public is charged Rs 400 per head for forty-five minutes in the water and each air-conditioned room is sold for Rs 2016 with the single suite costing Rs 2200. A dormitory for eight people is available for Rs 3,200 and the check-in and checkout time is 12 pm.
The shift to the hinterland with the roads being good is smart thinking for those staying in Goa, but it is not a Goa that many non-Goans like to come to.