The tiny state of Goa has its allure in its natural beauty and the hospitable approach of its people. Tourists from all over the country as well as the world make at least one trip to this paradise of the East.
After Goa’s liberation, its unique cultural diversity drew people in droves. The state was once one of the most sought-after tourist destinations of India, with the state's economy, thanks to some early political decisions, very much dependent on the tourism industry for its survival.
Historically, Goa’s culture has been enriched by the many dynasties and kingdoms that have ruled her. The most significant of these are the Portuguese, who left their influence on the heritage, culture, food, etc of the land.
When the hippie culture began to flourish along the coastal belt of Goa, tourists from European countries and America began to visit in large numbers. The air of Westernisation left behind as a legacy by the Portuguese attracted these tourists as it bred a sense of familiarity.
Later in the 2000s, the state government started encouraging tourist activities and cashing on the tourism sector robustly. Social media platforms were utilised to increase the state’s popularity as a tourist destination
But it seems as if tourism in Goa peaked some time ago and is now dangerously close to stagnation thanks to the dearth of high-end tourists. There are valid and many reasons driving the situation forward.
Coastal belt tourism will quite possibly decrease in the near future. States like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala, with longer coastlines and pristine beaches, rapidly developing to attract high-end tourists, will outdo Goa where snagging tourists is concerned.
Goan beaches, especially those in North Goa are unclean and crowded. A lack of basic facilities at the beaches, garbage strewn everywhere, poor illumination, touts, illegalities, etc are easy enough deterrents to high-end tourists. Besides this, the rates of the hotels, restaurants and so on are exorbitant.
Rising crime rates with incidents like the death of Sonali Phogat have a negative effect on the mind of tourists. Narcotic-related issues, sexual crimes, prostitution, theft, etc along the coastal belt have naturally kept away anyone who puts their security before travel and enjoyment.
Transport – both the high fare rates as well as the low and irregular availability is an issue that the government has passed the buck on. We all are aware of the skirmishes between taxi operators, buses, touts, rent-a-cab operators and others. This is definitely not what a tourist destination should look like.
The complete focus on coastal tourism has countered the development of hinterland tourism. Several spots in Goa, besides the coastline, offer fascinating touristic opportunities.
Hinterland tourism will allow the inclusion of locals in the area in the tourism sector. Not only will tourists be drawn to these scenic places, but employment will also be generated for the locals and revenue for the state.
Beggars and homeless people have increased rapidly in Goa. Panjim, Margao, Ponda, Vasco and other towns have become a haven for these beggars who come to Goa from elsewhere and beg on the streets.
Homeless people and beggars on the street reflect a poor standard of living. No tourist would prefer a tourist destination where the living standards are low and unhygienic.
The improvement and maintenance of public services is another area wherein the Goa government is lacking.