BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
The incident in Old Goa and Anjuna involving Indian tourists – though the aftermath of the incident in Anjuna cannot be condoned – has left a lingering question: Do Indian tourists believe that they are the only source of sustenance for Goa’s tourism industry?
Goa was discovered as a paradise by the hippies in the seventies, and it was through them that Goa’s potential to develop as a tourist destination grew.
Through the hippies, began the charters, and the story evolved thereafter.
When the hippies first came in, they stayed in guest houses in villages close to the beach, and they adjusted and lived life like the locals. They enjoyed it and in the process imparted their knowledge, thus beginning another growth path.
The advent of tourists saw the growth of resorts and a rise in our standard and style of living. Tourism stoked a gradual shift in thinking; changes in mannerisms; emphasis on education; and, most importantly, an emphasis on hygiene – the latter being one of the finer aspects of all religions.
Through the years, hippies moved to other areas and the seeds sown by them were left for others to nurture.
Then began the second wave of the tourism sector with restaurants, hotels and all subsidiary businesses flourishing.
Goans enjoyed the spell as much as the visitors. Unfortunately, things are changing now. With the two reported incidents that happened in Old Goa and Anjuna, ownership of responsibility and rights is changing.
Indian tourists have been flooding the market, due to which the tourism industry did survive during the pandemic. Earlier, they were looked down upon by stakeholders who did not even plan in terms of catering to their needs. The emphasis was always on foreigners.
Even now the Goan tourism industry has been surviving on tourists from India since the opening of the market. Foreign tourists have yet to put on their seat belts for long-haul flights to Goa. Therefore, the reliance on the not-so-wanted guests.
Indian tourists are not bad. But, the type of Indian tourists that have been coming to Goa are not the best.
Even high-end Indian tourists have decided to take a break from Goa because the concept of holidays differs from person to person.
The incidents in Old Goa and Anjuna are not really unusual. The Sonali Phogat case, which the police initially wanted to wrap up as a natural death, revealed that there is a lot more going on in Goa than what meets the eye.
If a tourist in Goa commits a crime, the authorities prefer to look the other way, because the attitude is to treat tourists with kid gloves. The idea is to keep them placated in order to keep the wheels of the Goan tourism industry running smoothly. But at whose cost?
It has just been over a year since the world opened up again. It has been a slow process, but we are getting there.
The incidents in Old Goa and Anjuna are proof of rotten apples in a basket, of manners and affluence not necessarily going together, of proof of educated illiterates among the millennials.
The people involved in the assault in Anjuna have been arrested and will face justice, but the tourist who was the cause and was involved in the act of violence has got away.
Goa does not need to pander to low-end tourists. They are definitely not the state’s sole source of bread and butter. And where the law is concerned, it applies to everyone, Indian or foreigner.
Instead of trying to mollify delinquent tourists, the government needs to take stringent action to curb future occurrences of clashes.
Even better would be the repackaging of Goa’s image as a tourist destination. One that can attract the truly discerning tourist and ensure the state is not reduced to being projected as a crime-ridden location.