November 16, 1999
Goa is 'sold' in many parts of the world as a 'must visit' tourist
To a Goan, Goa is home. A home that is being gradually
destroyed by all sorts of interests and disinterests; but home all the
same. There is and will never be anything like home.
One of my first visits to Goa was just before the Portuguese left. I was
too young to remember the politics of the time and I wasn't aware of the
political turmoil. There is one image, however which remains ever so fresh
in my memory.
The Goa I visited in 1959-60 was a clean, peaceful place filled with
people of charm, etiquette, class and courtesy.
We spent most of that holiday in Velim. The villages had no electricity back then but there were the Petromax lanterns. Very few houses locked their
doors in the nights. Crime was virtually unknown. Sure there was the
occasional kids stretching out and making away with a low lying mango or a water-melon, but
nothing more than that. The night sky was full of stars and the trees filled
with glow-worms. Food was quite inexpensive, the shops clean and neat and people
well dressed. And then, there were those buses or Careiras. Those wooden seats
weren't very kind to our rear ends...but we managed.
Occasionally, we would walk to the nearby vaddo of Zaino to the west or Velim-Baga
to the east. If we had company, we would all walk north to the Assolna bridge
where the most delicious and hot "bhojjhim" (onion pakodas) were available.
Then came 1961.
Today's Goa has electricity and many more comforts but its
fabric is slowly disintegrating into a filthy, corruption riddled, crime and disease infested chaotic mess.
Mercifully, there are still some exceptions. The villages of Velim and Benaulim
are still pretty and relatively unspoilt .....but they, like some other Goan villages,
are indeed exceptions.
Some of us return because we have family there. Some of us go abroad to work for as
long as we are able. Many of us try to go abroad but are unable to make the cut. Many
of us however have decided to stay put and make a living in Goa.
But we then go and invite tourists to visit our Goa !! and call it " Golden".
Somewhere, somehow....it must be 'fantasy-time' !
It is said that people and places get the government they deserve. Goa is probably getting
the tourists it deserves. Frankly speaking, I would find it difficult to invite any decent
tourists to visit Goa.
Who Visits Goa:
In this segment we might wish to examine the various categories of people who visit Goa.
1. Goans settled or temporarily working outside Goa. The Goans who are likely to visit Goa
more frequently are the ones who temporarily live in the Gulf and the UK. Some Goans in these
two regions are expected to visit Goa even more often than Goans settled in Poona, Bombay or
Calcutta. Goans settled in more distant parts of the world like Australia or the US are probably
likely to visit Goa less often ( usually once a year or every two years ).
temporary abode, these " returning home " Goan visitors invest significant funds into the Goan
economy. Business establishments, eateries, banks and service agencies in Goa thrive immensely
on the funds that these Goans remit or / and spend in Goa.
Gulf Goans spend several prime years of their life in very inhospitable conditions in the Gulf and
contribute significantly to the economy of the State.
2. Non-Goan, Indian business visitors. These individuals contribute
significantly to the hospitality economy as they reside and dine at superior establishments.
3. Non-Goan, Indian visitors. There are three types of visitors in this category:
a: those who are tourists who visit Goa for special occasions, return at special times of the year, those
who have always wanted to visit Goa. These middle and upper class visitors have a good time
in Goa and invest significantly in the tourist economy of Goa.
b: those who come to Goa for the 'quick weekend' on the Konkan Railway.
c: those who come to Goa in busloads ....sometimes to gawk at the " white females on the beach ". The type of visitors Goa could do without.
4. International visitors who come on charters: All over the world, these charter visitors are
of minimal benefits to the economy. The benefits created by encouraging charter visitors are
not commensurate to the problems generated by them. Having said that, I hasten to add that
charter flights benefit a number of Goans, assisting them to visit their loved ones in Goa more often. The Goans are likely to contribute significantly more to the economy compared
to the average run of the mill charter tourists of non-Goan origin.
5. International visitors: These are few and far between. They demand a better product but
are also willing to pay for the service. It depends what Goa and Goans want for their tourist
product and what they are willing to do in order to reach that goal.
Is it numbers or is it quality ? With all its natural beauty and cultural diversity, Goa could
have both numbers and quality.
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