I was taken aback this morning when Goan Minister Vijai Sardesai termed the domestic tourists scum of the earth. In my opinion that is probably the most condescending statement I have heard any minister utter in Goa in a very long time.
In fact in his speech at the Goa Biz Fest, if you compare Goans to rest of India, we are high in per capita income, social and political consciousness, we are much superior than people who are coming in.
It is incredible that someone of the political acumen of Sardesai could actually walk the path of adding fuel to the fire already subtly raging in Goa between Goans and Non-Goans.
I completely agree with his moot point that Goa requires high-end tourist. Unfortunately, none of these ministers ever define what encompasses being a high-end tourist.
Am I to speculate that the high-end tourist would be one spending money in the casinos, someone coming with group of friends staying at five-star hotels looking for a good time with high-end escorts, someone partying at Tito’s, paying through their nose for EDMs.
I agree Goa has lost its sheen of good foreign tourists. But if you are going to tell me that it is because of the domestic tourist, I am going to laugh in anyone’s face.
Quality European tourists stopped coming to Goa when the tourism department started to focus on the Russian market. Almost 10-years ago Goa went on a Russian and Eastern European tourists overdrive. When the Russian arrived the Britishers, Danish and Finnish decide to give Goa a skip. Some Russians brought with them in their charters their new economy money, drugs and whores.
Such is the brilliance of the Goa Tourism Department that sometime around 2012-13, they even had a roadshow in Miami, California. I could not for the life of me understand what would attract someone from Miami (a beach destination) to Goa, I suppose it could be Feni, Fish Curry Rice or Yoga. Goa did not see any influx of tourists coming from Miami. In fact a former Tourism Minister even went to Las Vegas to study about the different casino and nightlife in on the Nevada belt.
The domestic tourist is today sustaining the economy of Goa, it is not the foreign tourist. In fact, one travel advisory is enough to send the foreign tourist numbers in southward decline. The domestic tourist does not care about any travel advisory, it cares about enjoying a weekend or a week in Goa. Party or go to the hills, find peace, find contentment, of course drink and eat good food. Then go back to the grind that they come from and try to escape in Goa.
If today Goa has got an image of drug, sex and booze; who is responsible for that if not the very governments over a period of time that have done very little to curb these menaces. In fact the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today itself mentioned that it would not be possible to completely eradicate the drug menace.
Terming domestic tourists as scum is far-fetched. In Goa in a five-star hotel, I has once seen a drunk rich man beyond his senses take a leak in the bushes outside his villa. That’s class, I suppose of some high-end tourist.
I have also seen a middle-class family staying at a Tourist Residency who were on the beach, eating ice-cream and chips, put their waste in a plastic bag and strolled all along the beach.
Goa needs more of family and not gamblers, prostitute seekers and drug sniffers.
Goa is an ideal destination for eco-tourism, but does the government spend on eco-tourism. I doubt it.
Goa is an ideal destination for village-tourism, but does the government spend on village-tourism. I doubt it.
Goa is a ideal place for a concept like Sentosa Island or Disney World, but does the government spend on this idea. I doubt it.
Goa is a ideal place to take the mining villages and create them as spice trails through new technologies in forestation and agriculture.
Goa is an ideal place for agriculture tourism, but does the government spend on agriculture tourism. I doubt it.
But the government does not mind creating a Nevada like concept moving casinos to off-shore near the new Mopa International Airport.
The problem with ministers and bureaucrats is that they do not understand the T of Tourism. They draw grand plans like high-end tourism but do not understand that global high-end tourist is looking for different experiences like Golf, Skydiving, Village Tourism.
Tourism today is experiential.
If today Goa has withered the downslide of tourism globally, it is because of the flight-load and train-load of domestic tourists from North and South of India.
They are the real salt of Goa’S earth, and just like in a salt packet sometimes you get stones, we need to remove the stones of bad domestic tourists, the one’s that come as a group of women-hungry men in their cars cooking on the roadside, ogling at women on the beaches and littering along the roadside.
For Goa Tourism to evolve, we must understand the tourists that came to Goa, they came for peace and tranquility.