Responsible tourist: Just who is that?
The state tourism department is all set to send a delegation of salesmen and women to Frankfurt, Zurich, Paris and Vienna early next year to attract more “responsible tourists” to Goa. The department will spend Rs 1.7 crore on the trip, and if you ask me, this money could have been put to better use, like filling potholes and kickstarting the traffic lights under the Mandovi bridges. That would have done more for tourism than a trip to Europe.
But now that it has been decided to travel, do road shows and whatever else it takes to cajole, seduce, convince or bribe the “responsible tourist” into coming and spending his/her money here, let’s not try to stop the trip, because that could result in a lot of angst among the department fellas, who were looking forward to a paid tour of the best places in Europe.
The rationale for this trip is that the UK tourist, one of the mainstays of foreign tourism in the state, faces a visa problem, and the conclusion in Panaji is that less of this tribe will dare to make the trip to Goa given this bottleneck. So, we have to look elsewhere.
However, before we get any further, the question that begs an answer is, who is a responsible tourist? Nobody in the department thought of explaining this to either Goans or tourists. Indirectly, the department seems to be saying that most or all those who visit Goa are irresponsible and that we have to look to Europe to get responsible blokes?
That being the case, how does one explain to the “responsible tourist” from Europe that he or she would have to mix with the “irresponsible” chaps once he gets here and make the most of it.
Goan tourism stands on three legs — nightlife, booze and casinos. So, what we always look for, is a tourist who is willing to gamble his or her life away, drink without a care in the world and get totally lost in wine, women and song. In other words, we are in greater need of the irresponsible tourist, not the responsible one.
If you allow me to digress a little. The department also mentioned that a team had gone to Singapore to convince people there to holiday in Goa. That’s like convincing business class fliers to move to economy class to experience less leg space. Seriously, what did the team tell people in Singapore? Our coconut trees are better than yours?
Traditionally, Goa has always placed its faith in numbers. It does not matter from where those numbers come. To that extent, we built a bigger airport with a larger capacity. Of course, once in a while, we do make a feeble attempt to lure the upper-class tourist, but give up because it is just too hard.
Goa is a brand, and truth be said, right now, it is the domestic tourist who is the big spender, not the gora chaps. And no one really cares if he/she is responsible or irresponsible.
And so desperate is the government to get the numbers going, that it is willing to open the Mopa airport before the connecting roads are ready. Now, how irresponsible is that?
The tourism minister might be well-meaning and well-intentioned, but he doesn’t have a vision, and if he had one, has chosen to abandon it at the altar of numbers. Right now he is doing what all tourism ministers before him did — undertake road shows in foreign nations. It does not matter if it works or not, as long as it gives stakeholders the impression that something is being done, because, in politics, perception is everything.