Responsible tourism for a balanced, memorable Goa experience

Unruly behaviour by tourists has raised concerns, making it imperative for tourists and local authorities to collaborate for an incident-free holiday
DEATH TRAP: The high number of road accident deaths in a small state like Goa do not send a good signal to the world outside.
DEATH TRAP: The high number of road accident deaths in a small state like Goa do not send a good signal to the world outside. Photo: Abigail Crasto

Goa, a paradise on India’s West coast, has long been a magnet for tourists seeking sun, sand and a vibrant culture. However, recent incidents of unruly behaviour by tourists have raised concerns, and cast a shadow on the state's reputation.

While social media has played a crucial role in exposing such incidents, it is essential to address the issue and emphasise the need for responsible tourism.

DEATH TRAP: The high number of road accident deaths in a small state like Goa do not send a good signal to the world outside.
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DARK SIDE OF TOURISM IN GOA

December 2023 witnessed three alarming incidents that brought negative attention to Goa. In Calangute, a group of tourists, in a rented car, indulged in stunts and dangerous manoeuvres, leading to the arrest of one individual.

Another incident in Parra gained social media traction when a tourist was filmed driving with two kids on the roof of a car. The outrage on social media prompted police action against the irresponsible behaviour.

DEATH TRAP: The high number of road accident deaths in a small state like Goa do not send a good signal to the world outside.
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Additionally, Old Goa Police took strict measures against three tourists for reckless driving, endangering themselves, and others, on the road.

The troubles continued into February, with several cases of tourists, driving rental cars, being involved in accidents, including a fatal one on the old Mandovi bridge, in Panjim.

December 2023 witnessed three alarming incidents that brought negative attention to Goa.

Another video went viral, showing a group of tourists riding rent-a-bikes recklessly on the Atal Setu bridge, where entry for two-wheelers is prohibited.

The month also witnessed common occurrences of tourists flouting rules on the infamous Parra road.

In one incident, Colva police had to issue a challan to a Maharashtra-registered vehicle after the driver took the car to Colva beach via a footbridge, leading to the vehicle's impoundment.

DEATH TRAP: The high number of road accident deaths in a small state like Goa do not send a good signal to the world outside.
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THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

In these incidents, social media played a pivotal role in shedding light on the tourists' misbehaviour. The rapid spread of videos and images generated public outrage, pressuring law enforcement agencies to take action against the culprits.

While this demonstrates the power of social media in holding individuals accountable, it also highlights the need for proactive measures to prevent such incidents.

PROMOTING RESPONSIBLE TOURISM

Tourists play a crucial role in shaping the experience of both themselves and the local community. Responsible tourism is imperative in preserving the beauty and integrity of Goa as a tourist destination.

It is a call to action for travellers to minimise their environmental impact, respect local cultures, and contribute positively to host communities.

The need for responsible tourism arises from the growing threats of over-tourism, environmental degradation and cultural erosion.

Responsible tourism is imperative in preserving the beauty and integrity of Goa as a tourist destination.

By adopting sustainable practices, tourists can help protect delicate ecosystems, conserve natural resources, and reduce the social and economic impact on local populations. 

Responsible tourism fosters a mutual respect between visitors and host communities, enhancing the overall travel experience, while safeguarding the unique attributes that make each destination special.

In a world facing environmental challenges and cultural homogenisation, responsible tourism is a conscious and ethical choice, ensuring the long-term sustainability of our cherished destinations like Goa for generations to come.

The following are a few areas that I believe tourists should adhere to, not just when it comes to our state of Goa, but others, too.

DEATH TRAP: The high number of road accident deaths in a small state like Goa do not send a good signal to the world outside.
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RESPECT LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS

As tourists, we must familiarise ourselves with the local laws and regulations, especially traffic rules. Ignorance of the rules should not be an excuse for reckless behaviour.

Rent-a-vehicle services should provide clear guidelines to customers, emphasising the consequences of violating traffic regulations.

Rent-a-vehicle services should provide clear guidelines to customers, emphasising the consequences of violating traffic regulations.

PRIORITISE SAFETY

The safety of oneself, and others, should always be a top priority. Engaging in stunts, dangerous manoeuvres, or violating entry restrictions on certain lanes or bridges not only endangers tourists, but also poses a threat to the local community.

CULTURAL SENSITIVITY

Respect for the local culture is paramount. Tourists should be mindful of cultural norms, traditions and practices.

Disruptive behaviour or disrespect towards local customs can tarnish the relationship between tourists and the host community.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS

Goa's natural beauty is a significant draw for tourists. Visitors must adopt eco-friendly practices, such as proper waste disposal and minimal ecological impact.

Following designated paths in natural areas and avoiding littering contribute to preserving the pristine environment.

DEATH TRAP: The high number of road accident deaths in a small state like Goa do not send a good signal to the world outside.
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COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Tourists should actively engage with the local community in a positive manner.

Supporting local businesses, participating in cultural events and respecting the privacy of residents contributes to fostering a harmonious relationship between tourists and locals.

While Goa continues to be a sought-after destination for tourists worldwide, recent incidents of unruly behaviour have raised valid concerns.

Therefore, it is imperative for both tourists and local authorities to collaborate in creating an environment that fosters responsible tourism.

DEATH TRAP: The high number of road accident deaths in a small state like Goa do not send a good signal to the world outside.
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By respecting local laws, prioritising safety and embracing cultural and environmental consciousness, tourists can contribute to preserving Goa's charm for future generations.

A harmonious balance between exploration and responsibility is key to ensuring a memorable and sustainable experience for all.

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