Goa's tourist turnout disappoints on extended weekend

Ruing the lack of tourists – high spenders and others – few tourism stakeholders consider early closure – some by March-end – of shacks this season
NOT INSPIRING: The long weekend didn't see a lot of tourists as compared to other years.
NOT INSPIRING: The long weekend didn't see a lot of tourists as compared to other years.Photo: KD

Picture crowded beaches, a water sports team active all day, busy beach shacks with bustling kitchens, and the roads dominated by vehicles bearing yellow-black number plates. While this scenario does occur, shack owners, taxi drivers, and water sports agencies argue that the recent long weekend was not as eventful as described.

The long weekend started off with Mahashivratri on Friday, March 8 followed by Saturday and Sunday. Though there was a small rise in the number of domestic tourists visiting Goa over the weekend, tourism stakeholders cried foul about the type of tourists Goa is attracting.

Compared to the last few years, this year has been the worst. Tourists are happy to travel to other countries than to come here

Cruz Cardozo, President of Shack Owners' Welfare Society

Most tourists in Goa are on shoestring budgets, while patrons in the industry hope to see more high-spending tourists the next season. “We were excited for the long weekend, but we hardly got any customers at the shack,” says Cruz Cardozo, President of Shack Owners' Welfare Society.

He adds, “Frankly, we have not even gone shopping for raw material because there are no tourists. Compared to the last few years, this year has been the worst. Tourists are happy to travel to other countries than to come here. It’s more convenient too.”

FUN RIDES: With touts entering the market, many stakeholders are facing issues.
FUN RIDES: With touts entering the market, many stakeholders are facing issues. Photo: KD

CLASS OF TOURIST IS IMPORTANT

Stakeholders are also unhappy with the class of tourists visiting Goa. “We have to look into the type of tourists we are enticing to come to the state. The ones who want to come to Goa, look for cheaper options in accommodation, food and enjoyment. With everyone wanting a share of the pie, there are touts too who are offering people cheaper options and in the bargain tend to cheat them. This leads to reels on social media where they say that Goans are cheating tourists,” says Lester D’Costa, who runs a watersports company, Prince of Sal, at Mobor.

NOT INSPIRING: The long weekend didn't see a lot of tourists as compared to other years.
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However, rent-a-cab/rent-a-bike agencies say they have had good business over the weekend. “We charge Rs 1,300 for a car on weekdays, but on weekends it is anywhere between Rs 1,600 for a Maruti Swift. For bikes it’s between Rs 400 and Rs 600 a day. In a place where transport can get tricky and difficult, tourists opt for bikes or cars. So we are doing well, but compared to other years, this year has not been as great,” says an employee at a rent-a-car station.

With exams approaching, though there were holidays, many preferred to stay back, though there were a few from the metros and neighbouring cities

Seby D’Souza, who runs a shack in Candolim

EXAM FEVER KEEPING TOURISTS AT BAY?

Seby D’Souza, who runs a shack in Candolim, believes that there were less crowds, because of the upcoming school exams. “With exams approaching, though there were holidays, many preferred to stay back, though there were a few from the metros and neighbouring cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore who visited. The government must focus on the type of tourists we get, cheap tourists don’t want to spend in shacks, they will rather cook on the streets or eat roadside fast food like fried rice and Manchurian dishes,” says Seby.  

ONE FOR THE FRAME: A Domestic tourist poses for a photo with foreign tourists.
ONE FOR THE FRAME: A Domestic tourist poses for a photo with foreign tourists. Photo: KD
NOT INSPIRING: The long weekend didn't see a lot of tourists as compared to other years.
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The lack of spending tourists may also lead to an early shutdown of shacks by April and May, and there are shack owners, who are considering the option of shutting shop by March-end. “If shacks are not earning well, what is the point of having the structures, paying the bills and employees? It’s better to shut down and hope for a better season next year. I know of some shacks which are planning to shut down by the end of the month,” says Cruz.

Goa's reputation has also suffered due to the type of tourists visiting the state. The government is making some efforts, but stakeholders feel that these efforts are insufficient.

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